Creamy Herbed Sweet Potato & Chicken Soup **w/Vegan Option**

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I like to cook. Part of the reason I enjoy cooking, is the creative aspect of it. I suppose it’s the same reason I love to play with makeup, and interior decorating. I seldom use recipes as ‘gospel,’ but more as a place to get ideas. This recipe was created ‘on the fly’ as so many of my recipes are. My father in law is lured downstairs by the smells coming from the kitchen, and he always says, “I hope you wrote this one down!” I’m infamous for never making the same thing, the same way twice!

I find inspiration to cook, and it is always something different! I try to follow the seasons, and cook what I can find that is fresh and cost efficient. I also grow some of my own herbs, and have to purchase others. I’m working on having a really ‘good’ herb garden, that will sustain me! My rosemary bushes are amazing! I was inspired to make this soup after I bought a fantastic Vitamix blender. You don’t have to have one to make this recipe, of course, you can use an immersion blender or a standard blender.

I think this recipe definitely allows for some creativity, as I’ve made it several times and have used what I have on hand in place of a few ingredients. It is a true ‘cream’ soup without the cream! If you’d like to add butter, it certainly makes it taste better, but it is amazing without it as well.

This soup elicits very satisfied “Oh wow, you outdid yourself” type responses. It rocks.

As with many of my recipes, I do a regular and a vegan version of this soup. I will tell you what you can swap out for the vegan version.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. good olive oil
2 Large Yukon Gold (Or red bliss, yellow or white) Potatoes (3 if you are making vegan)
2 Yams/Sweet Potatoes any variety (3 if you are making vegan)
1 Fennel Bulb trimmed, and chopped
1 Leek trimmed and rough chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped
1 apple, cored and rough chopped
6 thyme sprigs
2 sprigs of rosemary
8 sage leaves
1/4 c of good Brandy or Cognac/Use Pinot Grigio or any white wine if that’s all you have!
6 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock or Broth
Fresh Ground Pepper
Sea Salt
1 lb fresh boneless chicken breast or breast tenders, pan seared until lightly browned (omit, of course for vegans)
4 Carrots, peeled and chopped
1 10 oz. pkg mushrooms, your choice, Cremini, Portabella, White, Shitake, etc. Cleaned and quartered.
1 Cup frozen chopped Kale, or Spinach or Broccoli Rabe, or frozen or fresh peas
4 Tbs. Butter (may be omitted, but adds a nice richness)
If you don’t use butter, try to use a really nice green, unfiltered extra virgin olive oil, and drizzle some over the soup… yum!

Serve with torn crusty bread pieces or croutons! Add a sprinkling of parmesan or romano cheese if you like.

Step 1

Using a nice, heavy pot, add olive oil to heat.
Add chopped Leek and Fennel – Fennel should be cored, and outer layer removed (it’s too tough to eat!)
Sauté for about 8-9 minutes on low, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and becoming translucent. Add garlic and the chopped apple and sauté on low for another 3 minutes.
Add the rosemary, thyme and sage. A few twists of fresh cracked black pepper as well. Turn the heat up to medium low, add the cognac or wine and allow to simmer another 2 minutes or so, until most of the liquid has been cooked off.

Meanwhile, wash and cut your potatoes, both sweet and yukon, and set to boil in a pot. If you are making the vegan version, when the potatoes are fork tender, set aside one of each cooked potato.

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Add the Fennel & Leek mixture and the potatoes into your blender, adding some of the Stock/broth, just enough to blend. (If you are using an immersion blender, blend everything in the large pot.)

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Heat 1 tsp. of olive oil into a skillet or cast iron pan, and sauté the mushrooms for about 3-4 minutes. If you’d like to use butter for this, be my guest. It adds a great flavor, but is totally unnecessary. I also like to add a splash of brandy or white wine as the mushrooms sauté, just so they soak up a nice flavor.

When the mixture is smooth and creamy, like so, pour the mixture back into the large pot, and set on medium heat.

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Add your chopped carrots to the soup pot. Stir in all the remaining broth/stock.

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Cut the browned chicken breasts or tenders into 1 inch pieces, and add to the soup. If you are doing the vegan version, now is the time to cut those two potatoes into 1 inch pieces, and add to the soup.

Add the sautéed mushrooms to the pot. Add the 1 cup of greens (spinach, kale, broccoli rabe, or peas – you can use anything you have, steamed collard greens, mustard greens, broccoli, escarolle… etc.)

Season the soup with salt and pepper. Partially cover, and allow to gently simmer about 15 minutes.

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