Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Carrot and orange soup

I recently had a dinner party where I was at a loss to what to do about a starter. For me, the starter is always the hardest dish to make because it needs to be tasty but also not to filling, and at the same time (this is a personal quirk) not too fiddly. I have lots of books with recipes for tapas, appetisers, entrees, etc., and they are all fiddly, and the recipe makes enough to serve 20. Bah!

On top of all that, I have a fridge with a shit ton of mandarins. It's mandarin season right now and I just love eating those things. They are all sweet, tangy goodness.

Anyhow, I went through the cookbooks and came up empty after going through 2 of them and thought "hey? how about a soup?" Wow! It was a light bulb moment for me. I thought it was sheer genius on my part (just goes to show how silly I can be!).

Combing through the cookbooks again (this time for soups), I came across a RECIPE for a carrot and orange soup. Wonderful! I will make that 'cos is sounds yummy!

  • 50g (1/4 cup) butter
  • 3 leeks, sliced
  • 450g / 1lb carrots, sliced
  • 1.2 litres / 5 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  • Rind and juice of 2 oranges
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 150ml / 2/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Fresh sprigs of coriander (cilantro) to garnish

  • Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the leeks and carrots and stir well, coating the vegetables with the butter. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are beginning to soften but not color
  • Pour in the stock and the orange rind and juice. Add the nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender
  • Leave to cool slightly, then puree the soup in a food processor or blender until smooth
  • Return the soup to the pan and add 30ml / 2 tablespoons of yogurt, then taste the soup and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Reheat gently.
  • Ladle soup into warm individual bowls and put a swirl of yogurt in the centre of each. Sprinkle fresh sprigs of coriander over each bowl to garnish and serve immediately

Carrots and leeks in the pot ready to be sautéed.

For those of you who have been this blog with any regularity at all will know that I never follow a recipe exactly. I can't help myself, I just feel the need to improvise to some extent. Here's what I did different:
  • I used mandarins instead of oranges. Remember I mentioned I have a shit ton of mandarins in the fridge? Good way to use a few. The mandarins were not super juicy, so I used the juice of 5 medium sized mandarins and grated the rind of 3 mandarins for the soup.
  • I don't know exactly what 450g of carrots looked like, but I used 6 medium sized carrots thought that was about right.
  • Instead of 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg, I used a touch more than 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg because that was what I had in my pantry.
  • I don't have a food processor, so I just stuck a stick blender into the pot of soup when it was ready for blending and let that wizz through the soup. Blended it just fine and I could do it while the soup was still hot.
  • I did not swirl the yogurt through all of the soup because one of my friends and I don't take yogurt. I'm not sure of Jean Claude's reason for not taking it, but for me, I'm lactose intolerant, so I served the soup into bowls and then just added a spoonful of the yogurt into the bowls of those who wanted the yogurt. I thought the soup tasted find without the yogurt.
  • Finally, the soup itself was so tasty that I did not even need to season it with salt and pepper.

Here's what the soup looks like right after it's been blended smooth.

Anyhow, the soup turned out way beyond my expectations. It was rich and creamy in texture, but at the same time, light and tangy in flavor. The mandarin gave it a delicate hint of freshness, while the carrots and leeks provided structure to the soup. I'm not sure how the soup will taste with oranges, but I expect I will find out when I make it and mandarins are no longer in season. All in all, the soup was a win. Super delicious. I'd cook it again!!

What have you done that's seasonal recently? Any particular fruits or vegetables or meats sitting in your fridge or at the store is particularly seasonal right now? What's in season? What do you do when something you want is not in season?

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