Soup in the fridge is like money in your checking account – it’s readily available for immediate personal expenditures, can be moved with ease to savings (your freezer), or held short term for barter. Need to thank someone for something they did for you – perhaps they picked up your kid, shared their expertise, or dropped off something yummy unexpectedly. Give them soup. I doubt not one person will turn you down — you not only showed your gratitude but you also helped them solve a problem of their own, aka what to eat and soup’s versatility allows them to make their own decisions (spend?save?share?). Money, baby.
I recently talked to a dear friend and I was flabbergasted when she confided in me that she had recently borrowed a recipe from her friend for soup and she had spent almost $50 dollars to make that batch. What the hell? I guess she had to buy so many new ingredients – spices she didn’t have, all the produce she bought organic, and the ham and ham bones alone were over $20. Sad thing is, she said she tried it and she didn’t even like it and ended up giving most of it away (after her husband told her a lot of people would be intrigued by its brawny ham flavor).
I don’t know about you, but if I spend $50 and a couple hours of my time on food I don’t even like, I am going to be hopping mad. Like so mad I might just want to key somebody’s car. Or throw a dozen eggs at my back fence. Or break plates. It’s just wrong. And annoying as all hell.
Soup to me is something you either make with what’s on hand (perhaps starting with, say, a comely half-eaten roast chicken or a platter of roasted peppers) or something you can make with just an inexpensive trip to the store (like to stock up on lentils or beans). Unless you are making bouillabaisse or lobster chowder, I see no reason to spend a good amount of money or time on a soup. It can be made quickly, cheaply, and you still get delicious results.
When I used to cook at Greens restaurant, we would very occasionally make a carrot soup that was scrumptious. I seem to recall Moroccan flavors and ginger that are gently teased out and resulting in a creamy, velvety puree. God that was good.
This week I wanted to channel that soup but add a little something that was heartier for my seniors. I was aiming for something that combined the pleasing texture of a puree with a bit more texture (I added cooked rice to fill it out) and with the unexpected toastiness of some of my favorite wintry flavors—Chinese 5 spice, nutmeg, ginger.
I sautéed the onions and shallots until well caramelized, dumped everything else in and topped off with water. I added a good two or three pinches of salt and walked away. Once it came to a boil, I reduced to a simmered and walked away. I puttered. I put away laundry, I answered a few dozen emails. When the veggies were all soft, I turned it off until I could come back to it a half hour later. I pureed the whole lot in my Vitamix, adding the Satsuma juice and more salt and pepper. I had about two cups of cooked rice leftover from the night before and added that in. A splash of apple cider vinegar to balance the sweet.
Sweet Mother of Pearl it was delicious. Velvetty spoonfuls of carrot punctuated by the random introduction of warm rice. All the spices – especially the clove and ginger—danced around my mouth doing a happy little jig—“look at me! Look at me!”—and the crusty goat cheese topped bruschetta I made for alongside rounded out the meal – and my waist—beautifully.
- 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
- 2 small or 1 large onion, diced
- 3 shallots, peeled and diced
- 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbs. each - ground ginger, Chinese 5 spice powder, cumin
- 1 tsp. each - ground clove, coriander
- 4 lb. fresh carrots, peeled and cut into like-sized chunks
- 1½ lb. potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 C. fresh orange juice
- 3 Tbs. cider vinegar
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 cup cooked brown or white rice
- cilantro and/or plain yogurt for garnishing
- Heat oil. Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes until they start to soften and start to turn golden. Add shallots, garlic, and ginger.Give it a stir and then saute for another 5 minutes (add a splash of water if it gets too dry or cooks too quickly).
- Add all dry spices, stir, mix for just a couple minutes to warm them through.
- Add all carrots and potatoes and enough water that all vegetables are submerged.
- Stir thoroughly, bring to a boil and then simmer until carrots and potatoes are all tender.
- Puree entire batch in blender and return to pot. (I do it in batches, adding each pureed part into a separate big pot).8
- Add orange juice, cider vinegar, coconut mik and cooked rice. Warm through and then season to taste, adding more vinegar, orange juice, salt and pepper if necessary.
- Serve warm with chopped cilantro and/or plain yogurt (I like thinning it with a bit of milk for better drizzling).