Amuse Bouche™: Weekly Musings on Food & Life

04Jun09

soup1

‘Tis the Season

By Suzanne Lenzer

Soup may make most people think of deepest winter, but when the produce starts to hit it’s peak, I start thinking of soup as a springtime staple. What can’t you pick up at the greenmarket or pull out of the garden and simmer into something wonderful? Think about it. Asparagus, peas, tomatoes, corn, even rhubarb or berries make lovely summer soups.

Of course when you get those first few ears of corn or the first handful of peas you want to do something special with them. But after you’ve eaten your fair share, it’s often time for a new approach. That’s where soup comes in.

I had some lovely carrots a few weeks back and they were fabulous roasted with cumin and white wine. Then I had some more and they were delicious shredded and made into zucchini-carrot fritters. But then we had some more… and, you see where I’m going? It was time for something different. A chilled soup was in order.

There’s nothing hard about making good soup. In fact, it really couldn’t be easier to improvise and use whatever you have in the cupboard to create something extraordinary. For this light Sunday dinner I grated up some fresh ginger I had leftover from earlier in the week, mixed up my own version of curry powder from the spices on hand, and cracked open a can of coconut milk. I’ll admit the broth was homemade from a batch in the freezer, but decent quality packaged would do just fine (in fact, water would work beautifully too if you were really in a bind, as the coconut milk adds a lot of flavor and body).

So if you’re feeling like that third or fourth batch of seasonal something needs more than the grill or a simple sauté, think soup.

Chilled Curried Carrot and Coconut Soup

3 tablespoons butter
½ medium onion, roughly chopped
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2” coins
1 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground tumeric
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch cayenne pepper
12 ounces homemade chicken broth (ideally, or at least good quality packaged)
¼ cup to ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
Juice from ½ lime
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Cilantro, optional

1. Heat the butter until the foam subsides. Add the diced chopped onions, sprinkle with salt, stir to coat with butter. Add the chopped carrots, ginger, cumin, tumeric, coriander, and cayenne. Stir and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the stock, you should have enough to just cover the vegetables. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the carrots are cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.

3. If you have an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pot. If not, wait until the soup cools slightly, and puree in a food processor or blender in batches. When smoothly pureed, add enough coconut milk to bring the soup to the consistency you want.
Adjust the seasoning (depending on the stock you use, you may need more or less salt), and add lime juice to taste. Chill the soup for an hour or so before garnishing with cilantro to serve.

NOTE: By substituting vegetable stock for chicken, you can easily turn his into a vegan soup. You can also use a pre-mixed curry powder in place of the dry spices.

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