Lost Italian: Soup recipe showcases flavor of fresh carrots
Giovanni and I planted our first crop of carrots this year in our garden. We knew we were a little on the late side to be planting in June, but we'd received the seeds as a gift and figured we had nothing to lose.
We harvested last week and ended up with more than 50 carrots of various sizes and shapes.
We enjoyed a couple of the smaller carrots in a fresh garden salad and marveled at how much sweeter and fresher they tasted than store-bought varieties. During dinner our conversation turned to what we should do with the rest of our bounty.
We set some aside to make a batch of authentic tomato sauce later this week, and we'll freeze more to make chicken cacciatore later this fall. But these are dishes in which the carrot is simply a flavor builder, an enhancement to the overall dish. We wanted to showcase the flavor of our fresh carrots and could think of no better way than with our recipe for Carrot Ginger Soup.
Carrot Ginger has been a perennial soup favorite at Sarello's almost since the time we opened, almost 13 years ago. The comforting medley packs nourishment both for your body and your mind. With its bright orange color, velvety-smooth texture and subtle zing of sweetness, this soup just makes you feel good when you eat it.
It's also easy to make, embracing Tony's "keep it simple" philosophy toward food, with just a few added ingredients to help showcase the main flavor. For this recipe, the addition of ginger elevates the soup from a basic carrot puree to a truly memorable dish.
Ginger, or ginger root, is an aromatic spice with plenty of its own medicinal properties, and is often used to enhance both sweet and savory dishes. It also serves as the perfect partner for carrots, as these two roots together deliver a delicious flavor combination.
Instead of using water, Tony further enhances the flavor with chicken stock, but you could substitute vegetable stock. Tony adds brown sugar, unsalted butter (always unsalted, as this enables you to control the amount of salt in your dish) and heavy cream to create a well-balanced, flavorful soup.
Carrots are rich in flavor and texture and act as their own thickening agent for this soup.
You can use a food processor or blender to puree the ingredients, but Tony prefers a hand-held immersion blender, which he says is the perfect gadget for a smooth, pureed soup. And, if you blend the ingredients well, you shouldn't need to strain the soup before serving.
Find fresh, locally grown carrots at farmers markets, where they will be available until the end of the season, sometime in mid- to late-October.
Tony says it's impossible to have just one spoonful of this soup, as each taste leaves you wanting more. We loved the reaction from Carrie Snyder, our Forum photographer, who said, "This soup tastes so good I could put it in a glass and drink it on my way to work." That's a presentation we hadn't thought of, but who are we to judge?
Carrot Ginger Soup
Makes 1 quart
3 large carrots, peeled, sliced into half-inch rounds (approximately 4 cups)
1 cup yellow onion, large-diced
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
4 ounces heavy cream
2 tablespoons freshly peeled ginger, small-diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Sautee the carrots, onion and ginger in butter in a large pot for five minutes. Add the chicken stock and brown sugar, stirring until blended.
Simmer on low heat until the carrots are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Once tender, use an immersion blender (or food processor or blender) to puree the ingredients until velvety smooth.
Add the heavy cream and bring mixture to a gentle simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with freshly chopped parsley. Serve and enjoy.
To store, place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to five days or freeze for up to two months.
Home with the Lost Italian is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple own Sarello's restaurant in Moorhead, Minn., and live in Fargo with their 8-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org. All previous recipes can be found at http://thelostitalian.areavoices.com.