Friday, January 14, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Soup

The winter shares of our CSA have been loaded with lovely, sweet carrots.  It’s great not having to think of buying carrots when I go out shopping, since they keep so well in the refrigerator and they’re such a useful ingredient.  My supply was getting out of hand, however, and the bottom shelf of the refrigerator was beginning to look like Bugs Bunny’s stockpile for the Apocalypse.  I needed to use up some of those carrots.

Soup sounded like a great solution on these frigid January days.  There must be ten million carrot soup recipes out there in all kinds and varieties, and I was thinking of making this one, but I came across another interesting offering in the current issue of Vegetarian Times magazine.  This soup was loaded with curry powder and fresh ginger, enriched with coconut milk, and sweetened with, of all things, a banana.

Well, I didn’t happen to have a banana on hand, but I did have some other sweet fruits that also needed to be used up, so I opted for an apple.  I also had neglected to replenish my supply of fresh ginger, so I thought I’d try dried ground ginger, instead. (You may also have some left over after all that holiday baking.)  I had the coconut milk, since I had just stocked up on some, knowing Harry would be out of town and I could eat as many coconut flavored dishes as I wanted to.  Great. I could make this soup.  Sort of.

Good enough, as it turns out.  Although I’m somewhat curious about how the banana would have contributed, and I’m sure fresh ginger would be even better than ground dried ginger, I really like my version of this soup.  The kitchen smelled amazing as it was simmering away, with the scent of curry, ginger and spicy cayenne. The taste is very spicy (you could tone down or leave out the cayenne if you prefer), but under the fire is the unmistakable flavor of sweet carrots, and just a hint of coconut.  The apple seemed to have disappeared amidst the other flavors, but I’m sure its ability to keep the doctor away was more or less intact.

I’m definitely happy to have this sweet and spicy number to add to my collection of pureed vegetable soups that help keep me warm all winter.  A glance at the ingredients in all their vegan glory might just suggest that it will help keep me healthy all winter, too.  The coconut might even qualify as “safe” by Harry’s standards (he hates coconut, except moderate amounts of coconut milk in curries, etc.), but it’s definitely the carrots that make the best entrance into mealtime…and exit out of my refrigerator.

Spicy Carrot and Apple Soup with Coconut Milk
Modified from a recipe in Vegetarian Times January/February 2011

1 tablespoon canola oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon coarse salt, divided, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon (or to taste) cayenne pepper
4 cups peeled and chopped or sliced carrots
1 medium to large apple, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1.  Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt.  Cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Stir in the ginger, curry powder and cayenne pepper and cook about 1 minute more, stirring constantly.

2.  Add the carrots, apple and vegetable broth, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, partially cover (leave a space where the lid is not covering the pot) and boil gently for 30-40 minutes or until the carrot is very tender.

3.  Remove the soup from the heat.  Puree completely with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender.  Stir in the coconut milk and lemon juice.  Rewarm if necessary.  Taste the soup and add more salt (or other seasonings) as desired.

Makes about 5-6 servings. Leftovers are good refrigerated for at least a few days.

Other recipes like this one: Cream of Carrot and Parsnip Soup, Winter Squash and Onion Curry with Yogurt Sauce

One year ago: Spaetzle with Cabbage, Bacon and Onions

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