Thursday, February 24, 2011

Carrot Soup Redux; I Give Another Recipe a Try For This Deliciously Healthy Vegetarian Fare

The newest Carrot Soup 
My husband and I had carrot soup this summer on our first night in Ireland and we've been dreaming about it ever since. I made one version in September not long after we returned from our trip. I decided to give another recipe a try just to taste the difference, or to see if there even was one. I'll compare the recipes and repeat the first one as well.

When we were kids we ate a lot of carrots - happily. Our mother and grandmother made their case intimating that our ridiculously straight hair would curl and that carrots would improve our eyesight. That was all the encouragement we needed being adoring fans of Shirley Temple and her glorious string curls and glass-less eyes. It was all a ruse but one that I used on my own family as well, also 'blessed' with lifeless hair. I should note that my hair situation hasn't changed since childhood and that I wear glasses! It could be worse. The 'real' benefits of eating carrots are many and so much better than having curly locks...really!

Carrot is a root vegetable that actually originated in Asia. One stalk contains carbohydrates, protein, a very small amount of fat, calcium and iron. Also, it is a good source of fiber, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium and thiamine. It's main claim to 'healthy fame' is that carrot is an excellent source of beta-carotene, actually the highest amount of beta-carotene among the list of vegetables we eat every day and as such has an outstanding role in cancer prevention. Research shows that people with lack of beta-carotene are more likely to have 2 times higher risk of cancer than normal people and it's wise to eat an appropriate amount of carrots every day to prevent cancer.

Chinese doctors agree that the sweet carrot is good for the health of spleen and stomach. It is also believed to improve impotence (lower sexual drive), sexual dysfunction, night blindness, (maybe that's where the eyesight claim came from??) and long term cough besides strengthening kidneys.

So off I went in search of another carrot soup recipe and I came across one that seemed different enough to give me a comparison. This one is from the Moosewood Cookbook, 1977 edition. Moosewood is a collectively owned business that has grown from a small health food restaurant to become a large and diversified company. The restaurant located in Ithaca, New York, has been opened since 1973. A link is provided for their impressive cookbook collection available through Amazon.

Carrot Soup
from the 1977 edition of Moosewood Cookbook
2 pounds peeled or scrubbed, chopped carrots
4 cups stock or water
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 medium potato, chopped (optional, for heartier soup)
3-4 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1-2 small cloves crushed garlic
1/3 cup chopped cashews or almonds (I used almonds)

Choose one:
1 cup milk
1 cup yogurt or buttermilk plus a little honey
1/2 pint heavy cream ( I used this one)
3/4 cup sour cream

Seasoning choices:
2 pinches of nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon dried mint, dash of cinnamon (I used this one)
1 teaspoon each of thyme, marjoram and basil
1 teaspoon grated ginger

  • Place carrots, liquid and salt (and potato if you are using it) into a medium sized soup pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer it for 12-15 minutes. Let it cool to room temp.
  • Saute the onion, garlic and nuts in the butter until the onions are clear. You can sprinkle in a little salt to help draw the moisture out of the onions. Towards the end of cooking, stir in the seasoning combo of your choice.
  • Puree everything together in a blender until smooth (I deviate from her recipe at this stage. I dump the sauteed onions, garlic and nuts into the pot with the cooked carrots and use an immersion blender to puree. It saves dishes and energy).
  • Whisk in one of the dairy products. As I mentioned in the beginning, I often leave this step out until I'm just about to eat a bowl of soup. I'll stir in a little milk, a spoonful of yogurt or some cottage cheese just before serving (and just after reheating, if I'm using the microwave).
  • Garnish with toasted nuts, some toasted bread crumbs or eat just as it is.

Carrot Soup from September blog.

My original carrot soup recipe:

Carrot Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds carrots peeled and cut into small pieces
i small onion minced
6 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon chopped parsley minced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup capers
salt and pepper to taste

  • Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, and cloves and sautĂ© until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add 3 1/2 cups broth. Cover and simmer until carrots are very soft, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove cloves from broth and discard. Puree soup in batches in blender. Return soup to same saucepan. Mix in lemon juice, dijon mustard, capers and sugar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Thin to desired consistency with more broth. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
  • Whisk cream in medium bowl just until slightly thickened, about 10 seconds.
  • Stir soup over medium heat until heated through. Ladle into bowls. Drizzle cream over. Top with parsley.

My opinion:
The new recipe had a nice consistency (I think it was the addition of almonds) with a slightly nutty (again the almonds) flavor. I added more nutmeg to the recipe than originally noted but it was a thick, rich soup and very easy to make. I liked the choices this soup gave.

The original soup was more tangy but just as rich. I noticed liquid separation when I served the soup back in the fall and had to keep stirring to eliminate that.

1 comment:

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