My first thought for the past six months when starting to write a blog post is inevitably some sort of apology for not having written a post in so long. But as a reader, you’re probably here for the creative recipes and juicy pictures, not apologies. So from now on, I promise to give you nothing less than cooking from my heart to yours, without the accompanying explanations of work and family obligations that encompass life as an adult. Fair enough?
This recipe is just about as simple as it gets. A fine example of cooking where the flavor of the end product is a direct result of the freshness of ingredients; buttery orange carrots and bright turmeric are sweated with garlic and onions, then simmered in broth until tender and pureed until silky smooth. The sweet and mild carrots are only enhanced, rather than overpowered, by the earthy, spicy fresh turmeric. Don’t be alarmed by the generous amount of turmeric either, it yields a perfectly seasoned soup that is delicious hot or chilled.
Look for fresh turmeric at your nearest ethnic market. Here in Seattle, I head straight to HT Oaktree Market where I can usually find it along with the galangal, lemongrass, culantro and pandan leaves in the produce section. An apology actually is due, however, for the ten-pound bag of flour that burst all over the checkout stand as I removed it from my cart last Sunday. Sorry HT, I love you guys!
· Curcumin, the active substance in turmeric, is known to be a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants help fight free radicals, which are a specific type of atom that regulate many processes in the body, some of which are necessary for life (such as the killing of bacteria in cells). However, free radicals are better known for causing unwanted cell damage that can lead to premature aging and diseases like cancer, stroke, heart attack, diabetes and possibly Alzheimer’s.
· Like many mechanisms that occur in the body, the effect of curcumin (and antioxidants in general) is not completely understood by scientists. Research suggests that turmeric may help reduce inflammation prevent infection and diseases such as cancer, arthritis, heart disease.
Fresh Turmeric Carrot Soup
If you are unable to get fresh turmeric, you may substitute fresh ginger or galangal for an equally exquisite soup. Use sweet, farmer’s market quality carrots and homemade stock for the absolute best results. Make this soup vegan by using olive oil and water or vegetable stock and substituting the yogurt garnish for cashew cream.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3-inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled and minced
2 pounds carrots, trimmed not peeled and chopped
2 quarts stock (chicken or vegetable) or water
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped cilantro, to garnish (optional)
Chopped fresh red jalapeños, to garnish (optional)
Plain yogurt, to garnish (optional)
Fresh lime wedges, to garnish (optional)
Sweat the vegetables. Melt the butter or olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, turmeric and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft and translucent.
Simmer the soup. Add the stock or water and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer the hot soup in batches to a blender and puree until smooth; repeat with remaining soup. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Serve. Serve the soup hot or allow to cool completely and serve chilled. Garnish with chopped cilantro and red jalapeños, a swirl of yogurt and a squeeze for fresh lime juice.