Today the Hull-House Kitchen Re-Thinking Soup served sweet potato soup. Creamy, delicious and a perfect misty, mid-day meal. Tara Lane, the kitchen manager gave a great description of the difference between yams and sweet potatoes. A yam has sweeter flavor and a brighter orange color – coming off a tropical vine and can grow as long as 7′. The word yam comes from the African word yami, which means “to eat.”
The southern sweet potato is closer to the white potato, as it has a higher starch content with not as much moisture and is noted for a more yellow flesh. There are up to 150 varieties of the southern sweet potato.
The sweet potatoes for today’s soup came from the McNichol’s farm in Marango, Il. The difference in coming fresh from a farm, as opposed to your local grocery store is that the store variety has been dipped in wax for preservation – and therefore must be peeled. From the farm – just wash and boil.
The conversation at the Hull House centered on the Chicago Rarities Orchard Project (CROP) a non-profit organization founded to establish community rare-fruit orchards in Chicago. These orchards, designed for reclaimed spaces, are dedicated to preserving a few of the thousands of varieties of tree fruit that aren’t commonly commercially grown, while providing open space and educational opportunities to Chicagoans.
We learned that one hundred years ago, there were 150,000 named apple varieties in the United States. Today, 90% of these have gone extinct.
The preservation of fruit varieties, which leads to better crop diversity and prevention against crop pest devastation is a long-term, noble endeavor. Hats off to CROP.