Waste not, want not: Carrot ginger soup

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Step 1: Softening up the potatoes and carrots.

Step 1: Softening up the potatoes and carrots.

Step 2: Sauteing the onions and garlic with ginger and other spices.

Step 2: Sauteing the onions and garlic with ginger and other spices.

Another catered event means more crudité leftovers. You know, those platters of artfully cut raw veggies requested at practically every event. Well, I’ve got news for you: very few people actually eat them. And the host almost never wants to keep them. Which means that at the end of the day we are faced with pounds (yes, pounds) of raw carrots and celery.

This week, while looking for mealtime inspiration among what was on hand in the fridge, I simply couldn’t ignore the carrots anymore. Neither my husband or I really like raw carrots (except in the occasional juice or smoothie), and most of the recipes I found with ‘carrot’ in the title called for just one or two. That wasn’t going to cut it. We needed a recipe that could both free up valuable real estate in the produce bin and not taste like carrots. My husband is very skeptical of sweet vegetables (i.e. beets, carrots, parsnips), so a bit of subterfuge was in order.

I remembered a fascinating article a friend had shared recently about how Latin American and Indian cuisine are both “vestiges of the cuisine of medieval Islam, a cuisine that was enjoyed from southern Spain in the west to northern India in the east.” My husband is from Chile, and I had noticed that many of the spices he knows and loves (cumin, cilantro, chiles) are foundational spices in Indian cuisine, one of his favorites. I think we’re onto something.

I flipped through several Indian cookbooks but found no carrot soup recipes. So I turned to Laurel’s Kitchen and started with her basic carrot soup recipe (the one that called for the greatest amount of carrots), swapping out the tarragon for Indian – or rather, medieval Islamic – spices. It worked. Even the carrot-phobe in the family lapped it up and served himself seconds. As with most soups, the flavor intensifies over time, so this was even better the second day.

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Carrot ginger soup

5 medium-large carrots (I used nearly a pound of baby carrots, as that’s what I had)

2 small potatoes or one large, peeled

1 bunch of leeks or one large onion, chopped

6 cloves of garlic, minced or grated

grated ginger (1 or 2 tablespoons)

Spices: cumin, turmeric, and some ancho chile powder from the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market – sorry, I didn’t measure

3-4 cups of water, depending on how thin you like your soup

3 tablespoons of miso (I used chickpea miso, to stick with the medieval Islamic theme)

salt & pepper to taste

  1. Chop the potatoes and carrots in small chunks, and sauté in a pan with oil. Add water or stock (not the 3 cups called for later) to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender.
  2. In a separate pan, sauté the onions and garlic for a few minutes until soft. Add in ginger and the spices to taste.
  3. Blend both mixtures in a blender, along with water and miso (alternately, you could substitute vegetable stock instead). Blend until smooth.
  4. Return soup to the pot, and keep warm until ready to eat. Boiling the soup will kill the live enzymes in the miso, so if you care about things like that, just keep the soup warm.

Notes:

*        Vegetable stock can substitute for the water + miso combination above. For more about miso, check out South River Miso Company’s informative website.

*        Keep your ginger in a plastic bag in the freezer, and it’ll last for years. We bought a bag of discounted ginger at our local grocery store for 70 cents about three years ago. Whenever I need ginger for a recipe, I grab a knob, grate what I need, and put it back.

*        This soup would also be good with coconut milk, if you’d like a little extra heft (i.e. fat). It will also mute the flavors of the spices and vegetables, so I decided to leave it out.

Quote of the Day

“There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties… The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.” -Charles Darwin

October 2nd is the World Day for Farmed Animals. Find out more here.

Sampling the soup in pinchbowls allows you to test the flavor before committing more than you might like. The first bowl is a puree of just the carrots and potatoes, the second is that puree plus the pureed spices, and the third has coconut milk added. I didn't like the coconut milk as much, so I didn't end up adding it to the large stockpot.

Sampling the soup in pinchbowls allows you to test the flavor before committing to more than you might like. The first bowl is a puree of just the carrots and potatoes, the second is that puree plus the pureed spices, and the third has coconut milk added. I didn’t like the coconut milk as much, so I didn’t end up adding it to the large stockpot.

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