Thursday, 2 February 2012

Carrot, sweet potato, apple & pear soup with cilantro oil

My least favourite vegetable? Probably the carrot. It is not that I hate carrots or even dislike them but I only eat them in certain circumstances and I certainly never crave them. I do sometimes enjoy cold, crunchy and slightly sweet carrots served raw with a ranch-type dressing. Also, I love carrot soup. 

I cannot think of carrot soup without spinning back into an old childhood memory. You should know that as a kid I was very picky. I did not like vegetables unless they were served raw with a dip. Period. Every night my parents made dinner and the meal was eaten as a family. Maybe it is just my memory but I think I can list all of the staple weekday meals that were served on a regular basis; well rounded, quick to prepare and usually something the kids would eat (usually). Sometimes however, mom would get crazy and try new and strange things.

One new creation which threw the daily routine off kilter was a puréed carrot soup that my mom made when I must have been about 7 years old. I do not remember why, but none of us liked the soup. Mom cooked most of our meals and she usually did a good job of cooking things we enjoyed. But on that occasion I remember a big fuss, weird reactions, exclamations and face-making. Looking back I wonder if the only reason we did not like it was because it was so foreign from what we usually ate. We never ate puréed soups and we never ate vegetarian meals.

As silly as it seems I love thinking back to that day; a day when dad stepped out of his role as the man who would eat anything, a day that mom said it was okay not to finish our dinner, and a day that I stared into a peculiar bowl of orange liquid. Somehow, that day eventually turned into this one; a day that I love carrot soup.

At my last trip to the farmers market I saw these unusual purple carrots and could not stop myself from buying a few. I only bought 4 carrots so to make a soup I needed to add some other things. Based on what was in my kitchen I added sweet potato, an apple and a pear. I also added fresh ginger and cilantro oil for extra flavour. Having the fruit in the soup made it slightly sweet, no sugar required. 

The best part about this soup? As I was making it, Mike arrived at home and handed me the pretty little tulips seen above. I have to warn you though, making this soup does not guarantee someone will bring you flowers.

Carrot, sweet potato, apple and pear soup with cilantro oil
Winter seasonal: apple, pear, carrot and sweet potato

1.5 cups sweet potato, cubed 
1.5 cups carrot, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 cup dry white wine
2.5 cups vegetable stock (MSG-free)
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 pear peeled cored and chopped

Lemon juice (meyer or regular), freshly squeezed
Up to 1 tsp sea salt

Cilantro oil
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp cilantro leaves
Sea salt

1 - Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Stir in onion, carrot, ginger, garlic and sweet potato.
2 - Cook vegetables until onion is soft, about 7 minutes.
3 - De-glaze bottom with pot with white wine, stirring vegetables a few times.
4 - Add water and a vegetable bouillon or vegetable stock to pot and bring to a simmer.
5 - Stir in chopped apple and pear.
6 - Cover pot, turn down heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
7 - Meanwhile, make cilantro oil by combining olive oil, cilantro and some sea salt in a food processor until cilantro is processed into little flecks and the oil is green. You can filter the oil but I prefer to use it as is.
8 - When soup is done simmering, take off of heat and allow to sit and cool about 10 minutes.
9 - Process soup in a food processor until smooth.
10 - Add soup back to pot, re-warm and stir in sea salt about 1/4 tsp at a time. Stir, taste and add more salt if desired.
11 - Finish by stirring lemon juice into soup. 
12 - Serve soup drizzled with cilantro oil.

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