Friday, February 18, 2011
Life has been challenging lately. The weather has literally thrown me back into my house as I tried to go out and get food twice this week. It has also been so very cold. As a result, I had to get very resourceful with the little food I had left in my kitchen. It has also made me yearn for soup. What better soup to make when all you have when it comes to veggies is a bag of carrots, old onions and wilted celery?
Recently I won $500 in cookbooks thanks to a contest run by Raincoast Books. I could not believe it and now I have a plethora of books to choose from to run through my test kitchen. I picked three books dedicated to soups and this week with my challenging foodie situation I choose to make a carrot soup from Sunday Soup by Betty Rosbottom published by Chronicle Books.
You begin with... a lot of carrots. That is a lot of chopping! I decided to listen to a podcast by my sisters as I chopped and chopped. I diced three cups of carrots, 1/2 cup of celery and, since I did not have a leek, one cup of onions.
I made my own version of croutons out of Michael Smith's Country Bread which did not turn out great, probably because they were whole wheat. Betty sautes her croutons with sesame seeds but I preferred to lightly toss them in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan and roast them. I was hoping to make them crunchy by this dry-heat method but nope, did not work.
Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a big soup pot over medium heat. When hot add the veggies, stirring here and there until softened, about ten minutes.
Add 6 cups of chicken stock. I eyeballed it and had to add some beef broth because I did not have enough chicken stock. I am telling you, we were out of everything! Add 1 tsp of salt, bring up the heat until it starts to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook gently for 30 minutes.
A lot of the liquid will disappear and that is OK but you do still want some on the bottom. Most important, you want those carrots nice and soft.
I added a little cold broth to bring down the temperature before adding it all to my blender to make everything velvety, smooth and luscious. As much as I love my food mill, the blender does this job the best when the veggies are soft enough.
From here you were supposed to add 1/2 cup of light cream and 1/2 cup of sour cream. I ran out of cream so I was generous with the sour cream. You were also supposed to add 1 1/2 tsp of sesame oil which seemed like a hell of a lot. That stuff is strong! Since I was not adding all that light cream, I only added 1 tsp and blended everything together.
I ladled the soup into a bowl, added a bunch of croutons, sesame seeds and chives. You were supposed to add an additional drizzle of sesame oil but it always had enough! So much so, that was all I could taste so I also added a little bit of goat cheese to add contrasting flavours.
The soup made this way was wonderful! I loved the texture, so creamy and hearty with fabulous colour. When my husband ate it he said, "I don't know what it is I am eating but it tastes good." The sesame absolutely was the only thing you could taste and smell but made a very basic carrot soup complex and interesting which was impressive. But! You could not taste the carrots.
Overall I would make this recipe again but really hold back on the sesame flavour to help the carrots shine as well. A very good soup that is memorable, impressive and takes basic inexpensive ingredients and brings them to a whole new level. So far so good!
I give this recipe four out of five wooden spoons.
Have a yummy weekend everyone!