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A Sweet & Savory Soup for Valentine’s Day

As you plan an alluring vegetarian or vegan meal for Valentine’s Day, I invite you to sample this unique Savory Sweet Potato Soup with Mushrooms & Chocolate Swirl!  I owe its inspiration to one of my very favorite and utterly charming movies: Chocolat.

In the movie, the main character, Vianne (Juliette Binoche) opens a chocolate shop that is considered too great a temptation in a conservative French village. If you watch the movie, you’ll see amazing delicacies that will have you lusting after chocolate! One of the movie’s more memorable and talked-about scenes features a chocolate-themed luncheon that Vianne hosts for a friend’s birthday in which chocolate sauces accompany every dish. Her menu features a large turkey and a pork roast, though I’ve often wondered what that meal might look like for a vegetarian feast. Today’s sweet and savory soup is my attempt at the first course!

I chose sweet potatoes because I wanted to make a velvety smooth purée that would go well with a hint of chocolate. I added shiitake mushrooms, cumin, coriander, and rosemary to ground the flavor with earthy notes. And I love the shiitakes for their immune support during the cold and flu season. I included a fennel bulb for its light, almost perfume-like scent. Cooking the onion long and slow to caramelize it completely adds a richness that only caramelized onions can bring to a dish.

This soup is quite delicious without the chocolate addition. But, my friends, if you want to create a memorable Valentine’s meal, I promise your guests will talk about this soup long after February 14th! Just a little swirl of melted dark chocolate chips takes the soup from lovely to exquisite (if I do say so myself)!

Cook this Savory Sweet Potato Soup with a lot of love and a swirl of chocolate, and everyone at your feast will experience a moment of divine bliss! Happy Valentine’s Day!



With Mushrooms & Chocolate Swirl

Preparation Time: About 40 minutes
Serves 4 to 6

Cook’s Tip: If you don’t have time to make fresh stock, I suggest filtered water with ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric. Boxed or canned stock will not do justice to the recipe!

1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
2 extra-large sweet potatoes, chunked
4 cups Easy Vegetable Soup Stock
2 cups water
1 small to medium fennel bulb and stalks, chopped
3 to 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons freshly ground ginger
2 teaspoons mineral salt
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander

Optional: Chocolate Swirl

¼ cup 60 to 70 percent gluten-free chocolate chips
1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil

1. Melt ghee or add oil to a medium sauté pan set on medium heat. Once the ghee is melted, add the onions. When the onions start to turn uniformly golden, reduce the heat to medium-low and stir occasionally, allowing the onion to slowly caramelize.

2. Bring the stock and water to boil with the chunked potatoes in a 6-quart soup pot. Reduce the heat to medium and cover. Add the fennel and mushrooms once they’re prepped. Once the vegetables are tender, add the ginger, salt, and rosemary.

3. When the onions are caramelized (completely browned, soft and sweet, without burning) add the cumin and coriander to the pan, stir, and let the spices mix with the ghee for about 30 seconds. Transfer the onion mixture to the soup pot. Ladle some of the hot liquid into the sauté pan to ensure you extract all of the fat and spices from the pan. Purée with a hand-held immersible blender.

4. Chocolate Swirl: Heat the chips and ghee or oil in a spouted sauce pot on low heat. Once the chocolate is melted, whisk the mixture. Add a teaspoon or so to each soup dish and swirl the chocolate with the spoon.

Ayurvedic Note: This dish is fine for everyone on occasion. Although the sweet potatoes increase kapha, they are balanced somewhat by the heat of the ginger. The chocolate is such a small quantity that it is fine for everyone on occasion!

Add a dash of cayenne pepper.

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