Coming from an area like the suburbs of Chicago, one has a tendency to get spoiled. Not only do the burbs offer a rich variety of foods to be sampled (pita shops with divine hummus, unreal sushi, fantastic wine bars) but, hello? Chicago is right down the parking lot of an "expressway". Just down the road a ways is a city where you can't go more than a couple of blocks without finding amazing cuisine. So to hear that Carbondale, Illinois would have anything that fit into my dietary plans was a shocker. To believe it might even impress me? Nah, not a chance.
Couldn't be more wrong. Of the four days we were away we ate at "Longbranch Coffeehouse" twice, and we would have dined there more if it weren't for those damned tee times getting in the way. The second time we had the extreme fortune to eat at this little gem, the husband ordered something I would never have touched only one short year ago, Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup. I took a few bites before he had a chance to sully it with his devilish piece of gluten-y toast. To say that it was good would be a disservice. It was unreal. It was like nothing I ever ate before. It was, quite possibly, the only thing near "The Hub of the Universe" that even came close to being out of this world. The chef was good enough to list the ingredients, but for quantities I was on my own. A quick Internet search turned up something similar, but not all of the ingredients were the same. So revise and sample I did.
I chopped and sautéed and stirred and boiled until my concoction was complete. So without further ado, my interpretation of the most amazing soup I've had in a very long time. As a note, their soup was vegan and used a vegetable stock. I used chicken stock because it was on hand. As I prepared it, the recipe made 10 cups of soup that came out to a whopping 67 calories per 8 ounce bowl. See, I told you it was amazing.
Longbranch Wannabe Chipotle-Sweet Potato Soup
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon powdered ginger (of course fresh would be a milon times better)
2 Gala Apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 large Sweet Potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 cups organic Chicken stock
2 cups Water
2 Chipotle Peppers (equivalent to 1 ounce- yes I pulled out the food scale for that one!)
Heat the oil in a 3 quart soup pot set over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, and ginger. Cook until soft and the onions are transparent. Add the apples, celery, and sweet potatoes; stir and cook for a few minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until vegetables are soft – about 45 minutes. Add the chipotle. Puree the soup in a blender until smooth.*
Return to the pot to keep warm.
*I was super excited to use the "soup" button on my BlendTech blender so without so much as a second thought I pulled out the BIG container and dumped in as much of the soup as I could at one time. The result was very tasty, but almost too 'baby food' in texture. When I make this soup again, which I definately will, I am going to try the good old stick blender. The soup at Longbranch had texture to it and was not the full out purée mine seemed to be. What do you think- how will you mix and mash the recipe into what will surely become one of your favorite soups of all time?