Saturday, December 19, 2009

What's up Doc? Carrot Heaven

I received some of the sweetest carrots I have ever had this year from our winter CSA. Due to the cold weather, winter storage carrots develop a wonderful sweetness that sets them apart from the flavorless store-bought carrots. Carrots come in a variety of colors such as the Purple Haze and Yellow Stone Varieties or the Bolero variety which is perfect for winter storage. Because these carrots are organic, I leave that flavorsome thin skin on. If you are buying store-bought, non-organic carrots I highly recommend peeling them due to the large amount of pesticides used to grow them.

To highlight the carrots' sweetness, I adapted a recipe for Curried Carrot Almond Soup from the now defunct Gourmet Magazine. I used homemade chicken stock and added some different spices than the Gourmet Magazine recipe. This is a velvety pureed soup which is low fat but certainly doesn't taste like it. The addition of unsweetened almond milk gives it a delectable creaminess. You can easily make this soup vegan by switching the chicken stock to vegetable stock or water. As everything is going to be pureed you don't need to spend too much time on finely chopping the ingredients which makes this a quick and easy soup that tastes like you spent all day in the kitchen. I substituted pine nuts for the almonds. Garnishing with cilantro and toasted nuts really added to the balance of this soup so try not to skip this step.

Curried Carrot Almond Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 pounds carrots, washed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup toasted almonds for garnish
1/4 cup chopped cilantro for garnish

  1. Heat olive oil in a heavy 4-quart stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute, stirring occasionally until onions are soft, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add sliced carrots and saute for about 5 minutes to help release some of their sweetness.
  3. Add chopped garlic, curry powder, ground coriander, ground fennel, ground ginger, salt and pepper and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add in chicken stock and almond milk and simmer partially covered, stirring occasionally , until carrots are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Let the soup cool slightly then blend soup in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Adjust seasoning with salt and 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
  6. Serve sprinkled with cilantro leaves and toasted almonds.

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