Dining out is one of best inspirations for home cooking, and it’s how I found myself making carrot-ginger soup. I can’t recall ever being interested in making this kind of soup until I had an absolutely delicious version of it recently at MJ’s Café. The Mid City vegetarian restaurant has long been known for homemade soups (in fact, new owner Mary-Brennan Faucheux is now selling them at the Red Stick Farmers Market), and the carrot-ginger has been featured this winter. Admittedly, I don’t do a lot with carrots—except eat them raw and roast them from time to time—but this soup made me want to go home and make more. I started researching and playing around, quickly realizing that it’s super easy to make, good for you and doesn’t require a fixed recipe.
The other thing about this soup is that there’s good chance you have enough ingredients lying around to pull it off. Carrots last forever in the veggie drawer, right? And if you don’t, the spices are pretty forgiving. Play around with them to see what you like. Indeed, a skimpy pantry is what led cookbook author and columnist Mark Bittman to develop this Curried Carrot and Coconut Soup recipe, which I used as a launch pad. The point is, you can do this without a lot of shopping or guidance. With these kinds of punchy ingredients, the results are hard to get wrong.
Carrot Ginger Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
About 8 large carrots, washed, but not peeled, cut into discs
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon curry powder
32 ounces chicken or vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk (light or regular)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Fresh herbs for garnish (cilantro or parsley preferably)
In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots, and sauté about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and dried spices, and sauté one minute. Add enough chicken stock to cover and bring to a low boil. Simmer until the carrots are soft, around 10 more minutes. Cut into a piece of carrot with a fork to be sure. If you have one, use an immersion blender to purée the mixture until smooth in the pot. If you’re like me and you don’t have one, add small batches of the mixture to a blender or food processor to purée until smooth. Return the mixture to pot. Thin with as much stock and coconut milk as you prefer. Simmer a few more minutes. Do not boil. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the fresh herbs.
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a food writer and regular 225 contributor. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.