Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Green Kitchen: Gingered Carrot Soup with Lime and Cilantro

Green Kitchen is a bi-weekly column about nutritious, inexpensive, and ethical food and cooking. It's penned by the lovely Jaime Green.

One thing I love about eating in season is the way it pushes me towards inspiration. Sometimes it's a beautiful bunch of red kale at a farmer's stand, or stalks of fresh Brussels sprouts in the fall. Or sometimes it's a giant bunch of carrots I bought a week and a half ago and totally forgot about.

Nature's bounty and my flightiness would've gotten us nowhere, though – nowhere past weeks and weeks of carrot stick snacks – without a little technological intervention in the form of my brand new immersion blender.

Holy goodness, has there ever been a more glorious kitchen invention? Fill a cup with milk and fruit, bzzp, you have a smoothie. Even better, when it comes to soup – you've got a steaming pot of broth and veggies? Bzzp, you have a silky puree. Oh, and also: YOU DON'T HAVE TO WASH YOUR WHOLE BIG BLENDER.

Sure, you puree soup in a normal blender in batches, but it just takes one loosely-screwed blender bottom and one splatter painting of hot soup up your kitchen walls and down your shirt to scare a lady off of that method for good.

I started with carrot ginger soup and ended up with something a little less sweet, and with a little more kick. It's not very spicy, but the tart lime juice punches it up. As I am, thankfully, not among the disadvantaged for whom cilantro tastes like soap, that seemed like a natural addition. Also because I will put cilantro in everything. Cilantro chocolate milkshakes may be next.

With cilantro and lime you might expect this to taste something like Mexican cuisine, as I did when it was cooking. But it turns out that the ginger, cumin, and coconut oil remind your mouth of curry, too. This is a meal without a country, then, but the carrots, onion, cilantro, and jalapeno all came from the farmers market, so it's at least decidedly local, too.


If you like the look of this soup, you might also quite enjoy:

Gingered Carrot Soup with Lime and Cilantro
Serves 4 as a main, 6 as a side.
Adapted from Epicurious.

2 tablespoons coconut oil (or neutral oil)
5 cups chopped carrots (about 2lb)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons diced ginger (about 1 inch squared)
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
5 cups vegetable broth or bouillon
2 limes, zest and juice
cayenne pepper to taste
handful of cilantro leaves, plus extra for garnish
1 cup Greek yogurt, plus extra for garnish

1) Put a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add oil. When hot, add onions and carrots. Saute until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

2) Add ginger, garlic, jalapeno, and cumin. Saute 1 more minute.

3) Pour in broth (or bouillon dissolved in water). Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, and cook uncovered until carrots are tender, about 25-30 minutes.

4) Remove soup from heat. Stir in lime juice. Let cool a bit, add cilantro, and puree in batches in a blender, or use an immersion blender right in the pot. Add cayenne pepper to taste.

5) Let soup cool to about room temperature. (An ice water bath in your sink is a good idea here – soup sitting warm for too long can spoil.) Stir in yogurt. Cover soup and refrigerate, at least four hours but preferably overnight.

6) When serving, garnish soup with a dollop of yogurt, a sprinkle of lime zest, and a few cilantro leaves. Pretty and delicious!

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Cost Per Serving
4 servings: 185.5 calories, 8.5g fat, 5.3g fiber, 7g protein, $1.69
6 servings: 123.7 calories, 5.7g fat, 3.5g fiber, 4.7g protein, $1.12

2 T coconut oil: 234 calories, 27.2g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.80
5 c chopped carrots: 262 calories, 1.5g fat, 17.9g fiber, 6g protein, $1.00
1 medium onion: 42 calories, 0.1g fat, 1.8g fiber, 1.2g protein, $0.50
2 T diced ginger: 3 calories, 0g fat, 0.1g fiber, 0.1g protein, $0.20
1 jalapeno: 4 calories, 0.1g fat, 0.4g fiber, 0.2g protein, $0.50
1 clove garlic: 4 calories, 0g fat, 0.1g fiber, 0.2g protein, $.02
1 t cumin: 9 calories, 0.5g fat, 0.7g fiber, 0.4g protein, $0.02
5 c Better Than Bouillon: 25 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.93
2 limes, zest and juice: 8 calories, 0g fat, 0.1g fiber, 0.1g protein $0.66
cayenne pepper: 0 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.01
handful of cilantro leaves: 0 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.10
1 c Greek yogurt (2% fat): 150 calories, 4.5g fat, 0g fiber, 20g protein $2.00
TOTAL: 742 calories, 34g fat, 21.1g fiber, 28.1g protein, $6.74
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 185.5 calories, 8.5g fat, 5.3g fiber, 7g protein, $1.69
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 123.7 calories, 5.7g fat, 3.5g fiber, 4.7g protein, $1.12

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