So my February “ramp-it-up veggie month” was a success. I pushed outside my comfort zone of broccoli, spinach and asparagus, adding edibles like fennel, rutabaga and turnips to my weekly rotation. While these vegetables are by no means alien to me, harder to prepare or less tasty, they just aren’t what I grab for when in auto-pilot weekly shopping mode. Like a pair of favorite jeans, there are just certain dishes that are more familiar and comforting than others.
Because I was varying my veggie routine last month, I neglected making my usual lunchtime winter staple: carrot ginger soup. I make a big batch at the beginning of a month, freeze individual portions, then defrost as needed.
I find each spoonful of the fresh, light soup satisfying every time. Knowing that it’s made from simple, healthy ingredients, it just makes me feel good, satiated yet not overly full.
My carrot ginger soup recipe does not differ much from the hundreds of others out there: carrots, onion, stock. But I do add lemon juice and zest—it adds to the zing of the ginger. The resulting taste is clean and smooth, a true standby.
While this recipe only uses broth, you can replace 1/3 the broth with coconut milk for a creamier soup (you can also just thin it down with coconut milk). I like to add a small spoonful of crème fraîche and some sourdough croutons when serving. You can also sprinkle with chopped cilantro, dill or parsley. And really, it’s just delish with no adornments.
Because I’m declaring my love for carrots, I’m also going to share three of my other go-to carrot recipes: carrot and parsnip puree, carrot fries, and copper pennies.
The first, a carrot-parsnip puree comes from an old Martha Stewart cookbook, What to Have For Dinner (Clarkson Potter, 1996). It’s the perfect accompaniment to lamb chops or roast chicken (and a great dinner party side…make a day in advance and just heat through before serving).
Martha Stewart’s Carrot Parsnip Puree
6 medium carrots (about 1 pound)
3 medium parsnips (about 14 ounces)
1 tablespoon salt
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
4 springs fresh thyme, plus 1 tablespoon leaves
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cream
1. Peel the carrots and parsnips and cut into 2-inch chunks. Fill a medium saucepan with about 6 cups water, bring to a boil, add salt. Place carrots, garlic, sprigs of thyme in the water, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add parsnips and continue cooking until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes.
2. Remove from heat, drain and discard thyme sprigs. Transfer carrots, garlic and parsnips to the bowl of a food processor. Add butter, cream and thyme leaves and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot, immediately, or make ahead and warm in a saucepan over low heat.
photo provided courtesy of elanaspantry.com
Another favorite side dish is carrot fries. I alternate these with sweet potato and russet potato fries. Elana’s Pantry can tell you how to whip these up (if you haven’t visited this site, it’s a gem—especially for gluten-free folks!).
Lastly, I would be remiss not to include a recipe for copper pennies because it is a Ffrench family favorite. My father-in-law requests this dish be included in any celebratory meal.
These are not, however, the southern copper pennies—tangy carrot rounds marinated in vinegar. My mother-in-law Renee’s version is just a simple glazed carrot, which with its glossy sugar coating could remind one of a copper penny. She always made these. Although a bit on the sweet side, this nostalgic dish will always have a place at our birthday and holiday meals as a tribute to Renee.
Renee’s Copper Pennies
NOTE: I also like to add a little pinch of freshly ground coriander too.
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of cumin and kosher salt
1. Steam or boil the carrots until tender in a saucepan. Drain well.
2. Melt the butter and brown sugar in the saucepan. Add the ginger, cumin and salt. Return the carrots to the saucepan and toss with the butter-sugar mixture over low heat until thoroughly glazed. Season with freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.
And finally, carrots as the main course…my favorite carrot soup…hope you find comfort in it too.
Comforting Carrot Ginger Soup
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth, plus more for thinning
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and stir until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the ginger and stir for another minute.
2. Next pour in the broth and add the carrots then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the carrots are tender when pierced, about 20 to 30 minutes. Turn off heat the and allow the soup to cool slightly.
3. Using a stick blender, puree the soup (or puree in a blender in batches) until very smooth. Return the soup to the pot.
4. If needed, add more stock or water to thin the soup to your desired consistency. Stir in the lemon zest, juice, coriander and white pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I like to add about 4 generous pinches of salt and several turns of the pepper grinder). Warm over low heat until thoroughly heated through. Garnish with cliantro, dill, parsley, crème fraîche, sour cream, and/or croutons. Serve.
Carrot harvest photo credit: Chiot’s Run / Foter.com / CC BY-NC