Kah KOW! It sounds like a cartoon, “pah POW,” doesn’t it? As if it should be in a little white cloud star burst in a comic strip when all hell is breaking loose. I think I’ll add it to my repertoire of socially acceptable expletives. I could have used it during our last kitchen Egg Snafu. Instead of yelling something profane, I’ll really just be screaming CHOCOLATE! And since chocolate is a great comfort food, it will only enhance using it as a silky comforting expletive slipping across my tongue.
The irony is that my kitchen Egg Snafu was a simple 6 ingredient recipe. One that I had done before perfectly, and then really Kah KOW’d it up this last time. Turned it into some crappy scrambled eggs. Then I dove into this 20- ingredient-multi-step-hard-to-find-spices-recipe and it turned out great. Go figure?! I guess because some of the ingredients (like Harissa and Hungarian Paprika) were not in my spice rack or immediate awareness … and the fact that I’d be combining chocolate with tomatoes … maybe that gave me pause and I paid more attention to what I was doing.
I found the word Kah KOW when I looked up the origins of chocolate … the phonetic spelling of cacao. It just jumped off the page at me. Originally, hot chocolate was not sweet at all, but very spicy. This recipe from Chestnut Street Inn really does it justice. Chocolate in it’s most original form …
Savory and Spicy.
Make this as an appetizer to spice up your Valentine’s Day dinner… while it’s not as dramatic as my Egg Snafu … it definitely has all the trappings of a good LifeTime or Hallmark movie. Watch and learn …
The character you love to hate, but still can’t resist … Harissa. She’s a spicy one.
I had a heck of a time finding Harissa. I looked all over the supermarket. But for you men out there, this isn’t the type of character you can discover the old fashioned way. As in … shopping … physically … in an actual store. This one is global and high tech. I thought I’d find it at Marx Foods. But nope. No Harissa. Googled it … found a bunch! And I even found a recipe to make Harissa. Now … I wish I would have done that BEFORE making the soup.
Enter stage left … the stand in …
In my creative zen at the grocery store, since Harissa was described as a North African Chili Paste, I figured some tomato paste and chili powder sounded about the same. And while it tasted great … it’s not really the same thing. So here are some references for you …
After reading the description of some of these as “hot” and “pain is good” … I’m kinda glad I went with my homemade thought up version. I like the taste of a little kick, but so spicy that I can’t feel my tongue is no good.
And as for character development, this is the bitch in the story … and while I have found substitute words like “kah KOW” and “Shut The Front Door” … I haven’t found an adequate replacement for the noun referenced above. If you have a cute one, please let me know!
My fake Harissa …
Heat oil and butter in a stock pot over medium heat … this is the plot.
Add chopped onion and saute until translucent. Get out the Kleenex … chopped onion is a sure tear jerker. What kind of Hallmark/Lifetime movie would it be without a few weepy eye moments?
Now the Italian favorite comes in and makes a squishy, but well scented, mess of things …
3 garlic cloves.
A little spa action with the skin peel.
And now all the characters are getting thrown together in the same plot … I mean … pot.
Here comes the heroine of the soup story.
She’s also a bit spicy and mysterious … but words like “pain” are not associated with this spice.
Add a little wine to the moment and the plot thickens.
Funny tangent … I was cooking at my friend Beth’s house and had called and asked her if that Magnum of chardonnay I saw in her fridge only a couple of days ago had about a 1/2 cup left in it that I could cook with.
I told her I’d bring over a fresh bottle … she said she’d drink that too!
The plot thickens …
Add the rest of the ingredients listed in the recipe and let it simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
And then gets whipped and turned around a bit so you have no idea where it’s headed!
Side note/Sub-plot … I actually had to blend twice … the volume of the soup was too big for the blender. So while you may SEE one blender shot … know that it took two. And … because it was hot it sort of exploded (just a little) and got bits of red soup all over the place. Told you there was drama.
Add the blended soup back to you stock pot … add the greens …
then add the hero …
He’s smooth and rich, and while a bit bitter, he still absolutely melts with the other characters.
Add a little honey to sweeten it up and cut the acidity.
Sprinkle on the cheese for a nice happy finish!
Spicy Tomato & Chocolate Soup
from Chestnut Street Inn, Sheffield IL
Yields: Approx. 6-8 Servings
2 Tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbl Unsalted Butter
1 Onion, Diced
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Carrots, Peeled and Diced
2 Celery Stalks, Diced
1 Cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Sliced
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to Taste
3 Tbl Harissa (North African Chili Paste)
2 tsps Hungarian Paprika
2 tsps ground Cumin
1 tsp ground Coriander
½-3/4 cup Dry Sherry or White Wine
1-28 oz Can Diced Tomatoes
4 Cups Chicken Broth
¼ Cup Cilantro, Chopped
¼ Cup Italian Parsley, Chopped
3-4 oz Bittersweet Chocolate
2 Tbl Honey or to Taste
Queso Fresco, Goat Cheese or Crème Fraiche to Garnish
1) Heat oil and butter in a stock pot over medium high heat until butter melts.
2) Add onion and sauté until translucent, approx. 5 mins. Add garlic, carrots, celery and sun dried tomatoes.
3) Season with salt, pepper, harissa, paprika, cumin and coriander. Saute for a couple of minute to toast spices and soften vegetables.
4) Add wine and continue cooking on high until all of the liquid has evaporated. Add tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 45 mins or until the vegetables are tender.
5) Pass soup through a food mill to puree (I used a blender) and remove any large particles. Return soup to pot and place over low heat.
6) Add parsley and cilantro. Add chocolate and enough honey to balance acidity. Adjust seasoning to taste.
7) Serve hot, garnished with queso fresco, fresh goat cheese or crème fraiche.