Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Curried Carrot and Potato Soup

Yet another nearly-no-ingredient recipe! For those of you in the northeast trapped in by snow, you might be able to make this soup without leaving the house for ingredients - at least for me, everything in this soup is usually in my house. I pretty much made this one up (though it does bear some resemblance to the leek and potato soup our mom makes), and I love how it turned out, plus I think it could be used as a template recipe, and swap out the carrots for any number of other vegetables (cauliflower, sweet potato, broccoli, squash of various kinds... totally bulletproof: vegetarian, rich and satisfying, yet low fat).

Curried Carrot and Potato Soup
serves 6 generously

2 tbsp ghee* or 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp oil (or just 2 tbsp oil if you wanna go vegan style)
2 large or 3 medium onions, chopped
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno (or any green chile), minced (I took out almost all of the seeds and the soup was nice and spicy... you should check your chile's spiciness before deciding how many of the seeds and ribs to include)
8 carrots (4 cups coarsely chopped)
2 big potatoes (4 cups coarsely chopped)
2 quarts of water
1 tbsp of your favorite curry mix, or a tsp each of ground cumin, turmeric, coriander; 1/2 tsp of ground cardamom, and maybe some allspice
salt and pepper

for garnishes you could throw on: plain yogurt, chopped cilantro, a little sprinkle of garam masala, crisp toasted pita chips**

In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat ghee (or oil, or oil and butter) till it's nice and hot, and add the onions, sprinkling on a little salt to help the onion to soften. Let them cook on medium high for about 7 minutes, till they're soft and a little bit golden. Add the garlic, ginger and chile. Let all that cook for another 5 minutes, till it smells awesome. Then add all the spices, and some salt and pepper. Let the spices toast a while, and then add the carrots and potatoes. Turn the heat down a little, and stir everything around and cover partially. After about another 5 minutes, add 2 quarts of water. Bring it all to a boil over high heat, then turn it down low and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are very soft. Puree the soup, either in batches in a blender*** or with a stick blender (definitely the best way! You should get one if you don't have one), until nice and smooth.

We had this with a big salad and it was a great dinner on a very cold night, garnished with a dollop of plain yogurt, a sprinkle of garam masala and some chopped fresh cilantro. This froze really super well, also.

*you can make your own ghee really easily! Melt any amount of butter (this stuff keeps for a long time in a jar in the fridge) - I did 2 sticks - in a heavy bottomed pan. Let it cook over low heat for... a long time. Scoop the foamy stuff off the top and discard, and some solids will fall to the bottom and brown (don't let them get super dark, just golden). Strain it through cheesecloth and store it in a jar in the fridge.

**The pita chips I had made a while ago by baking fresh pitas in 350 degree oven till it dried out and then broke them into pieces; the second time we had this soup, I decided to turn the remaining pita chips into croutons - I heated some olive oil in a big frying pan, added some crushed red pepper and a minced clove of garlic, then added the pita chips and browned them, and sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. They were super great in the soup - salty and crispy.

***if you use the blender, be really careful, maybe let the soup cool down a while before pureeing, if you have time (you can make this ahead easily and re-heat when it's dinner time). Also when you put the top on your blender to puree hot stuff, you should take the middle cap out of the top of the blender and put a kitchen towel over the hole and hold it on securely while you puree - that way the head of steam won't blow the lid off and spew boiling soup everywhere. Be really careful, start the blender on low and increase the speed gradually. I only go so far as to mention all this (which I'm sure you all know already) because I have blasted hot soup all over my kitchen and myself before, and want to spare you the experience.

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