Wednesday, September 28, 2011
It's beginning to look like...Halloween! (and Carrot Ginger Soup)
I know, I know. It's not even October yet. You're probably thinking I'm some Halloween freak who already has my house, yard, and bathrooms decorated. And you'd be right.
Now that that's out of the way...let's talk carrot ginger soup. Why do I think of soup when it comes to Halloween, you ask? Well here's where I pour you some sparkling apple cider (alcoholic at my house) and pull you up a chair. Several years ago, Kris and I got a bug up our bottoms to leave San Francisco and head for the midwest. The promise of having a 'normal life' or at least something more like what we had growing up in Texas - i.e. a house and a yard and a mortgage - made us glaze over with excitement, shunning the naysayers who said "Fargo?"
So off we went, buying a 1905 Victorian house near Lake Calhoun. Our first fall there was the first 'real' fall Kris and I had ever had. Leaves turned into orange confetti and fluttered through the air like a scene from Charlie Brown. Mittens were broken out by October 1st along with hats and snow boots and I thought I was living in the middle of an after school special.
About that time, a friend told me how it was a tradition in the Minnesota neighborhood where she grew up to give kids soup after trick or treating. At first it sounded weird to me (who wants soup when you have a bag of candy?) but when Halloween came around, I got it. It was damn freezing out and most kids actually had to flash their Halloween costumes at us like miniature perverts because it was already so cold out they were hidden under huge down coats! Of COURSE they'd want a bowl of hot soup once they were finished pounding the freezing pavement all night for a sugar high - probably along with a blanket and a nip of brandy...or hot chocolate.
Hearing this tradition made me want to raise 10 kids in the freezing midwest just so I could partake in it. But then second winter came hitting negative 5 degrees before Thanksgiving and I changed my mind (though I could brine a whole turkey in a bucket on the back mud porch - loved that!)
Anyhow, that's why I think of soup at Halloween. And what soup could be more perfect than one that's this color?
Carrot Ginger Soup
Makes 6 servings.
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) salted butter
1/2 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (use a 1 inch knob for more ginger flavor)
3 shallots, chopped medium dice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 pounds carrots, cleaned, ends removed and sliced into thin coins
1/4 teaspoon coriander
pinch kosher salt
pinch fresh cracked pepper
4 cups (32 oz box) low sodium chicken stock
Add the butter to a large dutch oven and put over medium heat. Once melted, add the ginger, shallots, and garlic. Saute, stirring often, until the shallots are translucent, lowering the heat a little if at any point the garlic begins to brown or crisp. Add the carrots and coriander, salt, and pepper, and saute for 20 minutes - until the carrots have softened and the begun to brown along the bottom of the pan. Raise the heat to high and pour in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, give a good stir to ensure nothing's stuck to the bottom of the pan, then lower the heat so that the soup is just simmering with the lid closed - not hot popping mad boiling. Let simmer for 30 minutes, then kill the heat and move the pot to a cool burner and let cool for another 30 minutes.
Use a ladle to add, in batches, to a blender or food processor. Once all blended, return to the pot over low heat, if eating right away to heat through, taste for salt and pepper and make any last minute adjustments before serving.