Have you ever heard of the spice mace? Even better, have you ever cooked something with it? Well, don’t feel bad if you’ve answered no to one or more of these questions. Last Christmas, we made an obscure turkey stuffing recipe which called for many spices that had us scratching our heads—the stuffing was a disaster in of itself, but that’s another story. One of those spices was mace. For the last few months, it has been pushed aside, knocked down, and flat out forsaken to the back of the cupboard. It seemed time to blow the dust off the lid and find another use for it. It may still be the summertime, but sweet potatoes are available year round. When you get a craving for them and the spices that make a perfect match, follow your instincts.
Mace is a close relative to nutmeg. If fact, they are derived from the same tree. Anyone who has ever cooked with nutmeg knows a little goes a long way. Even just a dash of the spice unveils a distinct flavor. Mace has the same power, and arguably it’s even more pronounced. We thought a simple soup would be a good way to experiment with this elusive spice. We both love sweet potatoes, and nutmeg works well with them, so it made sense to start there. The rest of the ingredients made their way into the mix based on what was in the kitchen. The end result produced a luscious bowl of comfort. It was soothing, with just the right level of sweetness and bright tang from citrus. Even with a small amount, the mace was definitely pronounced. But it all worked! September is just around the corner, and this soup is perfect for the upcoming fall season. Mace even fits in nicely with other seasonal spices like cloves and cinnamon, so we’ll have to shake it into a few holiday desserts this year. Whatever the case, the next time, it won’t take as long to pop open the jar.
Roasted Orange and Sweet Potato Soup – Serves 6-8
8 medium sweet potatoes, skin on
4 oranges, halved
1 thumb-sized piece raw ginger, about 2 inches, peeled
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Dash ground mace
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange potatoes and orange halves on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Using a fork, poke several holes around each potato. Drizzle everything with olive oil, then season oranges with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the ginger with a little olive oil, wrap in a small piece of foil and place on baking sheet as well. Cook for about an hour, or until the potatoes are soft. Remove from oven and let cool to touch.
2. When potatoes have cooled, gently peel off the skin with your fingers. Peel the rind off the oranges in the same manner, placing the skinned potatoes and oranges with the ginger in a large mixing bowl.
3. Using an immersion blender*, puree all the contents in the bowl until smooth. Add the lemon juice and honey halfway through blending.
4. Stir in mace and additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with your favorite crusty bread.
*If you do not have an immersion blender, puree the sweet potatoes and oranges in a food processor in batches. Add the lemon juice and honey in batches as well to help everything blend together.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.