Soup Sundays – Curried Carrot Soup

Along with the Brunch Series, I am starting Soup Sundays.  This winter I started making soups on Sunday afternoons.  I like to take leftovers, or fresh ingredients that need to be used and make them into a delicious soup – the perfect Sunday night meal for those chilly winter afternoons.  I decided to post this little ritual for all of you to share.  Not only is making soup a nice, relaxing way to spend the afternoon, but then you have delicious leftovers to eat all week.  If you double the recipes you could free some as well.

Additionally, I’m not sure if I have adequately expressed my love of carrots.  I do love carrots.  They have to be on my top 5 of all vegetable options.  Of course, in America, we are often resigned to eating them raw with Ranch Dressing.  Gross.  I don’t not approve. (Speaking of which, if you have never seen Saturday Night Live’s skit on Ranch dressing, you much check it out here.)   There are so many better ways to utilize such a versatile veggie.

Carrots are actually a root vegetable, related to the potato and the dandelion.  Which means they are hearty, starchy, and packed with vitamins.  It also means there are many, many different types of carrots.  Did you know you can actually get a purple carrot?  No lie.  Check them out the next time you go to the farmer’s market.

I wanted to make a soup that highlighted my love of carrots and their versatility.  This soup is a great example of how carrots can rise above Ranch dressing and even complement Eastern spices.  In this recipe, I use crushed garlic and ginger because I like how they lend flavor to the soup.  I feel as though they permeate the soup better in this form.  Of course, you can just as easily substitute minced garlic and grated ginger.  I also use finely ground black pepper for the same reason.  My favorite is Tellicherry black pepper from The Spice House.

Curried Carrot Soup – A Delectable Endeavors Original

2 Tbl vegetable oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

4 cups of roughly chopped carrot

4-5 cloves garlic

1 Tbl grated ginger

1 Tbl of your favorite curry paste, or 2 tsp. of your favorite curry powder (I used red curry paste)

3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth

1 14 oz can of coconut milk (I often use the lowfat kind and it works just fine)

1 Tbl lime juice

soy sauce to taste

Heat oil in a dutch oven or other large saucepan.  Add garlic and ginger.  Saute until fragrant (only about a minute).

Add onions and saute for a few minutes.  Add carrots and season generously with salt and pepper.  Let cook until they begin to soften.

Make a small space in the middle of the pan and add curry.   Let it cook a bit, then mix in the rest of the vegetables.  Pour stock over curry and vegetable mixture.  Let simmer until all of the vegetables are softened and cooked through.

Add coconut milk and reduce heat to low.  Let cook and combine for as long as you would like.  When you are ready to serve, add lime juice and soy sauce to taste.  Either let soup cool and blend it in a blender, or do what I do and take a hand blender to the pan.  I like to leave my soup a little chunky.

To serve, you can reserve a little of the coconut milk and swirl in the soup for a nice touch.

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Red Chicken Curry

I grew up in the Midwest.  So, it is surprising that the most delicious, comforting foods I always go back to when I’m feeling blue are usually . . .  well . . .  asian.  My family was not the most adventurous of eaters.  I never even tried asian food until I was 16.  In fact, at one point, my father convinced me Chinese food was made of cat.  It was a bleak time in my childhood.

Fortunately, I eventually ate Chinese food and loved it.  Since, I have been pretty enamoured with all different types of asian cuisine.  Give me saag paneer.  Feed me char siu.  I crave it.

One of my favorite dishes is red curry.  Now, let me explain myself.  Curry can mean different things to many people, depending on where you live and what you’ve eaten.  I’m talking about traditional Thai red curry.  This type of curry typically uses curry paste and coconut milk.  This type of curry is usually eaten with lots of broth as a soup-like dish with rice.  And I particularly like my own recipe.

1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 green pepper, seeded and sliced

1 small onion, sliced

2 Tbl olive oil

1 can (14.5 oz) of coconut milk

1 and 1/2 Tbl red curry paste

1/2 tsp of chili powder

2 tsp chopped garlic

1 Tbl crushed ginger

2 cups chicken broth

1 Tbls soy sauce

2 tsp of lime juice

Many of these ingredients can be swapped out for others.  I have used tofu instead of chicken.  I have used carrots instead of peppers.  This is a very verstaile recipe, as many curries are.  I would say stick with the basic broth ingredients, as they are what really make this recipe a curry, and make the flavor pop.  But feel free to toy around with what you add to the curry sauce.  I also like my curry with a little kick.  If you don’t like your curry that spicy, don’t add the chili powder.

Start by chopping the chicken into smaller pieces.  Warm the oil in a frying pan.  Salt and pepper the chicken generously.  Begin to cook chicken in 1 Tbl of oil.  When the chicken peices are white on the outside, but still pink inside and not fully cooked, add the chopped vegetables and garlic.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Cook all ingredients until nearly done.  This means, onions should begin to become transluscent, chicken should be just white all the way through.  It is important NOT to overcook any of the chicken or vegetables.  They will cook some more in the broth.  If you cook them all the way through, the chicken will become tough and vegetables will be soggy when added to the broth.

Remove chicken and vegetables from the pan and transfer to another dish.  In the SAME pan, warm additional tablespoon of oil on medium-low heat.  Add ginger, chili powder, and red curry paste.  Warm until fragrant.  Stir in broth slowly, until curry past mixture is fully incorporated.  Add coconut milk.  Keep heat low.  Do not boil.

Finally, add chicken and vegetables to broth.  Add soy sauce and lime juice to taste.  Let cook on low together for at least 15 minutes.  Serve over rice.  If you have fresh basil, chopp and garnish.