A healthy, lowfat soup recipe that's packed with carrots and bursting with color and flavor.
During a summer outing several years ago, a friend said to me, in the way only a British gentleman can, "How do you get the bottoms of your feet that lovely shade of golden bronze?"
I examined the bottoms of my feet. They were orange.
"And your palms match, too." I flipped over my hands.
I thought of the 80's movie Soul Man, where the main character takes a mega dose of beta carotene tanning capsules in order to darken his white skin so he can pass for an African American.
How had I not noticed this?
"Um, I eat a lot of carrots," I admitted sheepishly.
At about a dollar a pound, organic carrots are a year round best buy, and we always keep several bags in the fridge, much to the delight of our seven donkeys. Many supermarkets now carry organic carrots, and freshly dug bunches are worth seeking out at farmers' markets (search on Local Harvest to find farmers' markets and CSAs in your area).
As for my new favorite kitchen appliance, if you've been trying to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, I have two words for you: start juicing.
Late last fall, after spending an embarrassing number of months debating over several much pricier models, I finally took my wise friend Finny's advice and just bought a $50 Waring juicer. I love it—and I can't believe I lived so long without one.
Despite the appeal, I'd never bought a juicer because I always figured I was better off eating whole fruits and vegetables. All that healthy fiber going to waste!
What I've since learned, though, is that apparently by taking away all of that 'waste,' the juice is able to immediately deliver all the nutritional enzymes and goodness to your body. Drinking juice can also be a lot easier on your digestive system than eating whole raw foods—and it's definitely easier to consume.
Even I would never sit down and chomp my way through an entire bag of raw carrots, but I can drink a pound of them, no problem. And of course, the juice of fruits and vegetables is much better for you than no fruits and vegetables.
I mainly wanted a juicer to make carrot juice, and our current favorite concoction is equal parts organic carrots and apples, plus a few handful of Swiss chard from the garden (it's one of my favorite things to grow) and a small chunk of fresh ginger. It's looks a little murky, but it tastes really refreshing.
And since we feed the leftover pulp to the chickens, there really isn't any waste. Recipes for using the juiced pulp abound, but after using juicing pulp to make a huge and tasteless batch of my (usually very flavorful) Roasted Garlic Lover's White Bean Vegetable Soup several years ago while testing out a large commercial juicer, I'm happy giving it all to the chickens.
Not long after I started juicing, my friend and great cook, Kat, shared this carrot ginger soup recipe on her blog, She's in the Kitchen, which she'd adapted from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. These two favorite recipe sources inspired me straight into the kitchen, especially since I already had the Silver Palate version bookmarked. (I love all the Silver Palate books, but The New Basics Cookbook is my favorite. In fact, if I could only have one cookbook, it would probably be The New Basics.)
My version of the soup has an added twist. While checking The Flavor Bible (an awesome book if you're into cooking and food) to see what goes well with carrots, I found a quote from Andrew Carmellini of A Voce in New York City explaining how they add fresh carrot juice to their carrot soup at the restaurant. It was fate.
I've cut back my carrot consumption since those golden days of yore, but I still eat quite a few of them. And now that I'm hooked on this soup, I may be turning back into that bronze beauty once again.
Sunburst Carrot Soup with Fresh Ginger, Orange, and Carrot Juice
Makes about 8 cups (may be halved)
Adapted from She's in the Kitchen and The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook
The added flavor and color from the fresh carrot juice gives a nice brightness to this healthy, lowfat soup, but it tastes good even without it. My juicer makes a little over one cup of carrot juice from a pound of carrots.
Adapt this recipe to suit your taste: try more ginger, more orange zest, maybe more garlic—or leave any of them out. A little ground cumin, which you can even stir into just a bowlful, is a very nice addition. I like my soups thick; just add more chicken stock if you prefer a thinner consistency.
As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients. They really do make a difference.
3 Tablespoons organic butter
2 cups chopped onion (about 12 ounces)
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
1½ pounds organic carrots, scrubbed (no need to peel) and sliced about 1/2" thick (about 5 cups)
4 to 5 cups organic chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 to 3 teaspoons salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped organic orange zest (or more to taste)
1/2 cup organic orange juice
1 cup fresh carrot juice
Ground cumin or chopped fresh thyme
A sprinkling of toasted cumin seeds
Some chopped fresh thyme
A dollop of sour cream, creme fraiche, or thick yogurt
Snipped fresh chives (an easy to grow gourmet luxury)
Melt the butter in a heavy 4 quart stainless steel or enameled cast iron dutch oven. Add the onion and cook, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add a splash of water to the pot if the onions start to stick.
Increase the heat to medium and stir in the ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring a few times, for 2 minutes. Don't let the garlic brown.
Add the carrots, 4 cups of the chicken stock, 2 teaspoons of the salt, and several grinds of pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, with the lid cracked, until the carrots are very soft, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Use an immersion blender to purée the soup until smooth. (My KitchenAid hand blender is one of the best kitchen tools I've ever bought.) Or you can carefully purée it in two batches using a countertop blender.
Stir in the orange zest, orange juice, and carrot juice, along with the cumin or fresh thyme if using. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, and orange zest if desired. If you aren't using the carrot juice (or you prefer a thinner soup), add up to 1 cup more of chicken stock.
If your homemade chicken stock isn't very salty, add up to 1 more teaspoon of salt to taste.
Heat over medium until hot and serve, garnished as desired.
Care for some homemade bread to go with your soup?
Beyond Easy Beer Bread (one of my most popular recipes)
Farmhouse White Classic Sandwich Bread (perfect for first time bread bakers; makes great rolls & buns too)
Oatmeal Toasting Bread (makes scrumptious rolls too)
Carrot Herb Rolls (and a wonderful bread baking book for beginners)
Love cozy soup season? You might also enjoy these Farmgirl Fare recipes:
Roasted Garlic Lover's White Bean Soup/Stew (fat free, vegan, cheap, delicious!)
Roasted Leek and Potato Soup with Arugula (or Spinach)
Roasted Leek and Potato Soup with Arugula (or Spinach)
Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.
© FarmgirlFare.com, slurping up soup and trying not to turn colors.