Sweet Potato Soup With
Roasted Shiitake Mushrooms Serves 6
Some foods are automatically associated with the South. Grits are one; sweet potatoes are another. In this recipe, chef Lunsford turns the humble sweet potato into a smooth, satisfying soup and jazzes it up with shiitake mushrooms.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 90 minutes

4 sweet potatoes
12 shiitake mushrooms
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrot
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons flour
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1. Roast the whole sweet potatoes, skin on, at 350°F for an hour or until tender. Meanwhile, brush the shiitake mushrooms with a little oil and roast until tender, about 20 minutes. Slice the mushrooms and set aside.

2. While potatoes roast, heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots and cook until tender and translucent. Add the flour and stir so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the stock and bring to a simmer, stirring often.

3. Peel the warm potatoes and add the pulp to the simmering soup. Bring the soup back to a simmer and season with salt and pepper. Puree the mixture in a blender, strain it and return it to a clean pot. Slowly warm the soup and adjust seasonings.

4. Place the soup in warm serving bowls and garnish with the shiitake mushroom slivers.