Enjoy a quiet romantic meal together with this simple caramelized onion soup, roasted garlic-black bean toasts, and fresh apples dipped in melted chocolate. You want to start the soup the night before in a slowcooker. You may also make the black bean dip up to 3 days in advance.
Peel, halve, and thinly slice into crescents about 2 lbs. of red and yellow onions. Pour 1 TB olive oil into slow cooker insert and spread over base of insert. Put sliced onions into insert. Cover and cook on slow for 8 hours. (This technique is thanks to Robin Robertson’s Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker.)
Add 8 cups robust mushroom, vegetable, or other broth, ¾ tsp. dried thyme, and 1/2 cup dry sherry or red wine (optional). Cook over low heat for another 4-6 hours. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste.
Toast thinly sliced Italian or French or gluten-free bread (2 slices per bowl).
Preheat broiler. Ladle soup into oven-safe bowls. Float toasts on top of soup. Sprinkle with 1 oz. Swiss, soft goat cheese, or Daiyea vegan mozzarella-style shreds. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to bubble. Serve paying careful attention to hot bowls.
Alternatively, you can melt the cheese (but not make it brown) with a quick turn of 30-45 seconds in the microwave.
Love Your Heart Roasted Garlic Black Bean Spread
This recipe is for true garlic lovers, needing 3 heads of garlic.
Wash, sort, and check ½ lb. black beans for stones. Cover with water with 3 extra inches of water over the beans and allow to soak over night.
Drain and rinse beans. In a medium-large pot with a lid, cover beans with 2 inches of water. Peel the cloves from 1 head of garlic and add to beans with 2 bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook 45-60 minutes or until beans are very soft. Drain beans and garlic cloves. Remove bay leaves.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Slice tops from 2 heads of garlic and peel back layers to next to last. Wrap in foil and just before closing foil, drizzle with 1 tsp. olive oil. Close foil and bake 1 hour. Allow garlic to cool. With your fingers, tease the soft garlic cloves from their skins and place into a separate small bowl.
Purée black beans, boiled and roasted garlic, 1 TB olive oil, 1 tsp. ground cumin, ½-1 TB balsamic vinegar (to taste), 1 tsp or more of salt to taste, and, if desired, ¼-3/4 tsp. ground cayenne (if you want it spicy hot).
Serve with thinly sliced and toasted French, Italian or gluten-free bread.
To make a pan of heart-shaped toasts, take a loaf of French or Italian bread and carve a vee into the top of the bread.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Thinly slice the bread and brush with olive oil.
Lay slices onto a baking sheet. Bake, turning once, until golden brown, 4-6 minutes per side (depends on your oven and thickness of bread slice- keep an eye on it).
For gluten-free toasts, using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many heart-shapes as you can from a loaf of sliced gluten-free sandwich bread. Proceed as above.
Fresh Apples and Chocolate Dip
Fill the bottom half of a double boiler with about 2 inches of water. Put double boiler insert on top. If you do not have a double boiler, find a heat-proof stainless steel or heavy glass bowl or baking dish that will fit over your pot of water to be the top insert.
Grate or coarsely chop 8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. Place into top of double boiler. Bring water to boil and, stirring regularly, melt chocolate. Whisk in 1 TB dairy or non-dairy butter, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, and 2 TB cream or soy milk.
Wash, core, and thickly slice an apple to share for every two people. Toss each apple with 2 tsp. lemon or lime juice. Place warm chocolate into cups. Arrange apple slices onto a plate around the chocolate cups. Dip apples into the warm chocolate at the table, one cup and plate for every two people if making a romantic meal. Enjoy!