Szechwan Carrot Soup

carrot-soupCarrots. Such a quiet, unassuming pedestrian root vegetable. For years I avoided these dependable roots that seemingly were just filler in other pedestrian dishes. Need a sturdy veg for a stir fry or curry? Add some carrots. Need some color in a quick salad? Add some carrots. But, if we wait for inspiration, and honor the carrot ITSELF, we find beauty.

When I first found this recipe, I just had to make it. A quick glance at the directions led me to my favorite puree technique; cook up a few key ingredients in 2 o 3 layers, toss in a blender, and reheat. These make quick soups because the ingredients just need to be cut into chunks, making the whole process quicker and not requiring much attention. More importantly, anything with sesame oil, peanut butter, and red pepper flakes either had to be “Wow!” or “Ohhhhhhhh.” This one is either, based on your own preferences. I’ve shared this at a few events, and no one thinks it is just “OK.”

If you’re game, give it a go and let me know if you think it is “Wow!” or “Ohhhhhhhh.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery rib, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • a 3/4-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • Garnish: 1/4 cup sour cream mixed with 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions:

1. In a large heavy saucepan cook onion, celery, and garlic in oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until onion is softened. Add carrots, ginger root, red pepper flakes, and broth and simmer, covered, until carrots are very tender, about 45 minutes.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients and in a blender purée mixture in batches (use caution when blending hot liquids).

3. Return soup to pan and heat over low heat until hot, being careful not to let boil.

4. Serve soup drizzled decoratively with sour cream mixture.carrots

Notes:

* If you are of the “double the garlic and peppers” persuasion, as I am, resist your first time through this one. That little bit of red pepper truly does add quite a bit of pop to the soup.

* To speed this up a bit, chop the first batch of veggies, and while they cook, chop the second batch. Since you don’t need to worry about any type of presentation here, those perfectly cut vegetables are just not needed. Enjoy the break!

* When blending hot soups, do work in batches, don’t fill the blender more than about 1/4 to 1/3 full. I’ve found that removing the center from the blender lid, and gently holding a wadded up paper towel over the hole lets the steam escape as needed while also keeping the soup from flying all over your kitchen cabinets. Yes, this is experience speaking here. 😉

* The squiggly decoration is easily made by using a squeeze bottle.

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2 responses to “Szechwan Carrot Soup

  1. I love the squiggly decoration! Artistic and elegant… how inspiring!

  2. i never would’ve guessed that there was peanut butter in this–amazing! also amazing is your presentation–very clever, louise!

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