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Stock exchange: Making the vegetarian switch

When guests requested vegetarian options, this fast casual went all in.

To eliminate veto votes from the growing number of guests requesting vegetarian options at its 12 locations, Fresh to Order, a fast casual based in Atlanta, made a switch. But rather than put one or two meatless soups on the menu, the chain’s corporate chef and COO, Jesse Gideon, made a wholesale change, replacing the chicken stock previously used in all of f2o’s vegetable soups with two made-from-scratch vegan stocks—vegetable and mushroom. The swap has been good for business, Gideon says, “because carnivores don’t care if vegetable broth is used as long as the soup tastes great, but vegetarians do care, so you gain those sales at the top.”

Wild mushroom soup

Gideon combines the vegetable and mushroom stocks to form the base of the Wild Mushroom Soup. Each stock starts with a mirepoix of onions and celery; carrots are added to the vegetable version and garlic and three types of mushrooms enrich the mushroom stock. He sautes each mixture in olive oil, then adds water and reduces the stocks to intensify the flavor. The stocks are prepped in large batches one to two times a week at each location. Soups are priced at $4 for a half bowl and $5 for a full bowl.

Additional seasoning and an extended cook time help achieve the same depth and richness as the original chicken stock had, says Gideon.

Since cream is added, the mushroom soup is vegetarian, not vegan.

Smart Swaps

Instead of: Butter for sauteing - Chicken stock, basic mirepoix

Try this: Olive oil for sauteing, vegetable-and-mushroom stock, mirepoix with mushrooms and garlic.

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