Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jazzy, Gingery Carrot Soup

Autumn approaches the middle South on Eliot's cat's feet,

"And seeing that it was a soft October night,
curled once about the house, and fell asleep."

And before you know it, nothing but soup will do. This carrot-ginger soup is an improvisation and an in-between. Not quite warming enough for brisk days in winter, just right for those evenings when the temperatures are beginning to dip into the 50s and 40s. It's satisfying and light and full of beta-carotene goodness, thanks to the pound or so of carrots and the red bell pepper. You see, this isn't a real recipe, it's just what happens when I listen to too much jazz and the vegetable drawer overflows with color and the phrase "carrot-ginger soup" spins around in my head. I would use a recipe, but just looking through the usual suspects in my cookbook collection doesn't turn up a Carrot Ginger Soup recipe. Crescent Dragonwagon's Carrot-Orange Soup from "Dairy Hollow Soup and Bread" comes close, so I followed her lead and then tossed some ginger in to the food processor as the vegetables blitzed.

So, for all you cats out there, here's how to make Carrot-Ginger Soup.

1. Place your favorite soup pot or Dutch oven on the stove over medium heat. Put a couple of tablespoons of unsalted butter in and saute one chopped onion. Add one chopped red bell pepper (roasted is ok, if you have an open jar in the fridge). Add some salt and pepper to the onion mixture and continue stirring.

2. Take a pound or so of peeled, chopped carrots and add them to the soup pot. Stir, add a half cup of water, cover and let steam for about 15 minutes, or until very soft. At this point, you can add either water or vegetable broth or chicken broth, just enough to cover the vegetables. Add a 2 inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, roughly chopped. Season to taste and when mixture is cool, puree in batches in a food processor (for vulgarians like me who prefer a rustic texture) or a blender (for those who like an exceptionally smooth puree).

3. This soup can be dolled up with all sorts of green tender herbs, such as parsley or cilantro. A contrasting sprig floating in the middle of the bowl looks particularly pretty. I suppose you could add some cream to the soup, just be sure to amp up the seasoning to compensate for the dairy.

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