Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Carrot Soup with Ginger and Orange

For years the Pasta & Company store located in Seattle's University Village has posted a featured Soup of the Day on a chalkboard outside its entrance. Off and on I've wondered what their carrot soup tasted like, but I've never actually tried it. Was it Carrot Ginger Soup? Carrot Cilantro Soup? Carrot Curry Soup? It always sounded intriguing, but I guess not quite tempting enough. RL isn't fond of   doesn't eat  hates cooked carrots, so that may have been a factor. But today, with pounds of carrots in the fridge and RL away for the day, it was time for me to play with a carrot soup of my own. Finding a ton of recipes in cookbooks and online for reference, I chose ingredients I enjoy that might play nicely together.

Here's a photo of the cast of characters, all ordinary pantry items found in most kitchens. That chunk of bread, rosemary olive oil sourdough, was initially intended for toasted croutons to accompany the soup. Sudden hunger pangs caused me to change the plan and make a toasted cheese sandwich instead. You can see a few remaining wedges in the photo at the bottom.

Step 3 in the recipe makes it look like you are preparing baby food, a totally unappealing puree, but press on. The soup soon improves in both taste and appearance.

This was a perfect light lunch today, tasty and filling but not too heavy. (The missing other half of the sandwich doesn't really count as lunch; it was an emergency late-morning snack consumed long before the soup was ready.) RL might not love carrot soup, preferring something without cooked carrots, a chunkier soup, one more robust with spicy flavors, but today that wasn't an issue. He wasn't home for lunch so he didn't get to vote.

Onions, carrots, ginger and an orange accounted for the subtle layers of flavor. The orange juice and grated zest offered a citrusy note to balance the mild sweetness of the onions and carrots. A warm bowl of soup benefitted from the slight sour tang of lime juice added at the end. Chilled, the soup was delicious with sour cream and a bit of cumin stirred in to finish. Shredded mint or cilantro also merit a future taste test as optional toppings. Carrot Soup might not make our regular soup rotation, but it worked well for lunch and could be a simple first course for a multi-course dinner. I wonder how it compares to the Pasta & Co version that I've never tasted. 

Carrot Soup with Ginger and Orange
Serves 2-4

2 tablespoons sweet butter

2 cups yellow onions, chopped
a knob of ginger, about 2" long, peeled and cut into large coins
3/4 to 1 pound  of carrots, peeled and chopped (approx. 6 large)
2 cups Chicken Broth
1/2 cup orange juice
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Orange zest, freshly grated, to taste
Lime juice (optional)
Sour Cream (optional)
Sprinkle of cumin (optional)

  1. Melt the butter in a pot over low heat. Add the onions and ginge, cover and cook until tender but not caramelized, about 25 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are quite tender, about 25 minutes.
  3. Use a strainer to separate out the solids; retain the broth, you'll use it soon. Remove the coins of ginger and discard. Put the solids into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add 1 cup of the cooking broth and process until smoothly pureed.
  4. Put the puree back into the cooking pot; add the orange juice and 1 to 1.5 cups of additional stock until the soup is the desired consistency. 
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the orange zest and simmer until the soup is heated through. Serve immediately, OR chill and serve cold (in which case use olive oil instead of butter in Step 1).

Optional Toppings: swirl in a squirt of lime juice, or add a dollop of sour cream, or dust with a sprinkle of cumin or a scattering of fresh mint shreds. 

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