Hi, can I make the Butternut and Sweet Potato Soup without the ground mace (which I don't have)? Also, is there a usual substitute I can use instead of sugar (natural preferably)? Thanks!
Nigella's Butternut Squash And Sweet Potato Soup (from NIGELLA EXPRESS) uses a bag of supermarket pre-prepared diced butternut squash and sweet potato to make a speedy winter soup that is warmly spiced with cinnamon and mace. Mace is the dried lacy outer coating of the nutmeg and is similar in taste to nutmeg, though a little less sweet and slightly more pronounced. If you don't have mace then a good grating of whole nutmeg, or ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg, would be the best alternative.
If you don't have nutmeg either then you could make the soup with just cinnamon, or add a pinch or two of ground cumin to give a more earthy flavour. The tangy buttermilk should help to offset the sweetness of the vegetables but you can also use a runny natural or plain yogurt or kefir as alternatives. Unfortunately we are unable to give an overall substitute for sugar as recipes vary and in baking it is difficult to switch sugar as sugar helps with the texture, structure and moisture of baked goods. For non-baking recipes you can sometimes use alternatives to sugar, though not usually in the same quantities, but unfortunately it depends on the individual recipe.