This soup is a hybrid of the two carrot soups I posted earlier this year. I’ve taken the flavor profile of the first, but use the basic ingredients and methods to create the creamy texture of the second. This can easily be adapted for dinner parties to which people with differing eating preferences have been invited, simply by substituting canola or coconut oil for the ghee. And you can easily boost the protein simply by adding red lentils. A single russet potato thickens it nicely, while a good dollop of almond butter stirred in at the end gives it a luxurious consistency. (People with nut allergies can stir in some thick yogurt or cream, or just leave the almond butter out.) I use a well-flavored homemade vegetable stock for this, but if you prefer to use chicken stock, make sure it’s a very light one. I’ve increased the bay flavor in this, and add just a touch of vanilla extract to finish it. (You cannot identify the vanilla, but it does improve the flavor perceptibly.) I’ve been using bay and vanilla together a lot these days. Both are cross-over ingredients, as are carrots, i.e., they get along well both with savory and with sweet flavors. And, they all go well together, nicely. Enjoy!! —AntoniaJames
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoon ghee, butter or oil, divided
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
10 medium bay leaves, divided (dried Turkish)
1 large cinnamon stick
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon freshly toasted and ground coriander (measure after grinding)
1 teaspoon freshly toasted and ground cumin (measure after grinding)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 ½ pounds carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into ½ inch slices
3 tablespoons almond butter (unsalted)
Freshly ground pepper
1/8 – ¼ cup coarsely chopped toasted cashews
1 tablespoon ghee (optional)
Toasted cumin seeds (whole or freshly ground), to taste (optional)
Break 6 of the bay leaves and simmer in 1 ½ cups of water until the water is reduced by half. (You can do it on the stove, but I prefer using a glass measuring cup in the microwave, as it’s easier.) Muddle the bay leaf pieces in the water and set aside.
Gently sauté the onion in one tablespoon of ghee or oil with a pinch of salt and the remaining four (whole) bay leaves in a heavy soup pot over medium heat for about two minutes. Turn the heat down to medium low, then add the potato pieces and cinnamon stick; stir well. Add the ginger, garlic and ground spices and continue to cook for another minute, or until the onion is soft and translucent, stirring all the while.
Add one cup of water and one cup of stock and simmer for about five minutes.
Strain the bay leaf-infused water and add it, with the remaining stock and the carrots, to the soup pot.
With the heat still on medium, cook until the carrots are just tender, adding more stock or water if the mixture seems to be drying out. Once the carrots are just tender, turn off the heat, cover the pot and allow it to sit for at least one half hour.
Gently warm the ghee and stir it into the chopped cashews with the cumin and a tiny pinch of salt.
Remove the bay leaves. Puree the soup in a blender, adding more stock or water if necessary to achieve the desired consistency.
Put about a cup of the puree back into the soup pot and turn the heat to medium low. Add the almond butter and stir well to combine. Add a second cup of puree and stir to combine. Add the remaining puree and the vanilla and stir well to combine.
Check for salt and correct. Add freshly ground pepper to taste.
Serve each bowl topped with a spoonful of ghee-coated almonds or cashews.
N.B. If nut allergies are a problem, the almond butter can be left out. Stir in some full fat Greek yogurt instead, and top with a dollop of yogurt to which a touch of salt and some finely chopped cilantro and a tiny bit of grated lemon zest has been added. Or use pine nuts instead of the almonds.
Also, if you want to add red lentils or masoor dal to this, add ½ cup along with 1 cup of water, at the same time that you add the initial two cups of water. (You’d add 3 cups of water, total, then.) Watch the pot carefully and add more water if necessary, if the soup seems to be thickening too quickly or drying out.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)