Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Carrot, Honey and Ginger Soup- Soup Hall of Fame

This is a fantastic recipe that I've made once a year or so for many years. Carrots aren't my favourite vegetable it must be said, but I do like this soup.

 It's from one of Nick Nairn's earliest books Wild Harvest. I don't think I've ever managed to make another recipe from this book, I just keep making this one, over and over again. 

Nick Nairn has six Basic Soup Rules

1) Use a ratio of approximately 25% onion to the main vegetable ingredient

2) Cut the vegetables into the smallest pieces practicable- a 5mm (1/4 in) dice. This reduces cooking time. 

3) Always add boiling water to the vegetables as this reduces the time that the soup is off the boil where it can "stew" and lose its freshness.

4) Once cooked, liquidise the soup and cool it as quickly as possible- this keeps its quality and flavour.

5) It's much easier to make a big batch of soup. That way you can freeze it in handy-size portions and then reliquidise it one defrosted and re-heated. 

6) The soup is cooked once the vegetables are soft and tender. Timing varies for different vegetables. 

The rule that I've really taken to heart is #3. I always had hot water or stock now to every soup. It does really make it taste fresher and less "stewed". Brilliant. So simple.

Carrot, Honey and Ginger Soup

Fabby colour. Easy to make. Tastes great. Cheap. What more do you want?

80g (3 oz) unsalted butter
150g (5oz) onion, thinly sliced
20g (3/4 oz) root ginger, peeled
750g (1 1/2 lb) carrots, peeled and grated
1 tblsp (15mL) clear honey
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsps Maldon salt
5 turns fresh ground white pepper
900mL (1 1/2 pints) boiling water

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onions and stir to coat- don't let the onions go brown. Using the flat edge of a heavy knife, crush the ginger (this releases the oil). Add this to the onions and let them sweat for ten minutes.

Now add the grated carrot, honey, lemon juice and seasoning. Stir well. Pour in the boiling water and bring it back to the boil. Simmer for 45 minutes. (You may have to add a little more water during this time to allow for evaporation).

Remove the pan from the heat and liquidise the contents (with a hand-held blender or in the liquidiser) until smooth and creamy.

I have always grated the ginger for the recipe as I like the texture better, and don't trust my hand blender to be able to cope with bigger chunks of ginger.

I had run out of Maldon this time, and substituted an Australian sea salt, and found it to be much too salty. I did think about cutting down on the salt, but then added the two teaspoons whilst on autopilot. Oops.

I used the blender this time, and it gave a lighter, fluffier consistency. I really must either work out how to sharpen my hand blender blades, or it's time for a new one I suspect.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Roasted Beetroot, Parsnip and Apple Soup

I love the magnificent, glorious colour of a beetroot soup. Instantly distinctive. And a rather unusual choice it seems. Beware if you make a beetroot soup and eat it in a public space at work for a few days in a row. There will be speculation that you've taken complete leave of your senses, whacked out and gone on some kind of crazy beetroot diet, when all you really did was make a batch of soup to take to work for lunch, and you're trying to vary things a bit, get some nutrition and antioxidants.

This recipe is from the August-September 2010 (#31) issue of dish, an interesting New Zealand food magazine. Their version involves roasting buttercup pumpkins to use as a serving vessel and making beetroot chips as a garnish. I rarely go the extra yards to make a garnish. Not sure why. I'm happy to slave away at the soup itself, but don't usually make the garnish.

Roasted Beetroot, Parsnip and Apple Soup

500gm parsnips
500gm beetroot
1 red onion
1 apple
3 tblsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tblsp finely chopped rosemary
2 tsp caraway seeds
4 cups vegetable stock
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

Roasted buttercup pumpkins
Beetroot chips, optional
Sour Cream
1 tblsp chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 200C

Peel all the vegetables and the apple and cut into 1cm thick slices

Place in a large bowl with the olive oil, garlic, rosemary and caraway seeds.

Toss well to combine and season generously. Tip onto a large lined baking tray and cover tightly with aluminium foil. Roast for 40-60 minutes, stirring occasionally until all the vegetables are very tender.

Working in batches, put the vegetables in a food processor with a cup of the stock and process until smooth. Tip into a clean saucepan and repeat with the remaining vegetables and stock. Add any remaining stock to the soup. Season and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.

To serve: Ladle into bowls, or if using the roasted pumpkins, place these in shallow bowls and ladle in the soup. Top with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with beetroot chips and a sprinkling of chives.

(As I only ate this soup at work and not at home, I forgot to photograph it at home, so only have a dodgy iphone image to show)

Makes about 8 cups. Serves 6-8.


I didn't use the roasted pumpkins even though it made a lovely looking presentation. It was their cover recipe (should be on the website til the new issue comes out I guess, it's there now)

I didn't use the caraway seeds. I don't like them. And I didn't want a repeat of the recent Fennel Seed Incident.

I used some delicious ras el hanout instead. Since I don't have a lot of experience cooking with it, I probably didn't use quite as much as I should.

I didn't see any point in putting the cut vegies in a bowl to toss them, I just did it in the baking tray. Why get beetroot over more things than absolutely necessary? And I just noticed when typing this, that the tray was supposed to be lined. Oops! I'm sure it didn't matter.

The first day I didn't have any sour cream either (bad trip to the supermarket it seems), it needs it. Well, the sour cream helps it, the number of items not helped by sour cream are relatively few it must be said.

I forgot to buy chives the day I made it, and couldn't be bothered going back to the shops- I really need to get the herb garden going again, and now that we are officially out of drought it seems like a possibility.