Thursday, April 05, 2012
ORANGE-GINGER CARROT SOUP
Confession: This is the fifth carrot soup on this site. I just can’t resist a steaming bowl of smooth, sunny orange liquid, apparently. I’ve got them plain, with coriander, roasted with fennel, and curried with coconut, but what I didn’t have was perhaps one of the most common iterations, carrot ginger. In fact, I think the first time I ever tried any kind of pureed carrot soup, way back in a British pub in the mid-1990s (I think it was Oxford’s Eagle and Child, favored haunt of Lewis and Tolkien, but I might be confusing my memories), it was carrot ginger. It stuck in my mind because it was a total revelation to me, an inveterate cooked-carrot hater. Carrot soup, imagine that!
Unlike many people I know, I’m not a ginger fiend, and I probably could have lived quite happily without such a recipe in my collection if my friend S (who really should have a food blog of her own; her cooking is way bolder and more creative than mine) hadn’t specifically recommended this one after making it herself. Suddenly carrot ginger soup sounded tantalizing to me, and the inclusion of citrus sealed the deal.
Surprise, surprise, this lived up to its reputation. The flavors are well balanced—sweet from the carrots, bright from the orange, and peppy from the ginger—yet relatively gentle, and it’s easy to make. But thank goodness I was paying attention while cooking, because the recipe was really poorly written. Although I’ve only tried a few other recipes from the Food Network site, all of them have suffered from a notable lack of editing. If I didn’t know better, I would have pureed my bay leaf right along with the rest of the soup ingredients, because the instructions never told me to take it out. They never said anything about peeling or cutting up the 2-inch chunk of ginger, either, but I figured that slicing it into smaller pieces would help it cook through and ensure smooth pureeing. Not to mention that I was directed to slice the carrots “thinly,” a waste of knife skills because they were going to get pureed anyway and just needed to be small and consistently sized enough to cook quickly and evenly. And why ask me for an entire bunch of cilantro in the ingredient list when it turns out I only need 2 tablespoons? (I used more like 4, because I love cilantro.) The whole thing annoyed me. Good thing the soup was delicious. I’ll definitely make it again…using my own rewritten recipe.
1 pound carrots, coarsely diced
1 medium onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thick coins
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Zest (about 2 teaspoons) and juice (about ½ cup) of 1 large orange
4½ cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want a vegetarian version)
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
2–4 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
2. Add chicken stock, orange zest, and bay leaf to cooking vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are completely tender, about 20 minutes.
3. Remove bay leaf and discard. In a food processor or blender, puree soup in batches until smooth; return to saucepan (or better yet, just puree it in the pot using an immersion blender).
4. Stir in orange juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: Excellent; tastes even better the next day and can be frozen.