Monday, September 26, 2011

The Forgiving Nature of Roasted Carrot Soup

If you have been reading this blog for a while...
Or if you happened to have stumbled upon it by accident...
you will have noticed that I post a lot of soups.

It's true.
It's true because soups and stews are quite forgiving.
A quality I look for in a meal I am preparing.


It is rare that I have 30 minutes to spend zen-like in my kitchen, prepping my mise en place and admiring the bounty I am so fortunate to command.
It is so rare, in fact,  that it has never actually happened.

Instead, I find myself surrounded by whirling tornadoes, spinning haphazardly around my ankles.
Leaving massive destruction in their wake.
Spilling milk on the floor.
Liberating the Cheerios from their oppressive bag.
Jumping over the heap.
Landing on top.
Slipping and sliding.
Chasing each other in circles and screaming all the while.

Like the mother surveying the mess passionately created by her toddler twins that will take exponentially longer to clean than to make, Soup is forgiving.

If I were a dish, I would be soup.

Roasted Carrot Soup
 *adapted from Fine Cooking 

2 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
olive oil
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 onion diced
2 celery stalks
1 tbs minced fresh ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
salt & pepper
Greek yogurt- honey flavored

Drizzle the olive oil over the carrots and toss to coat. This works well in a bowl, but if you have another preferred method, by all means...(and do let me know) transfer onto a roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a oven set to 375 degrees for about an hour. Be sure to peek in about half way through and give them a good jostle to prevent scorching.

Melt butter in large saute pan and add onions and celery. Saute until soft. 
Add ginger and cook until onions start to brown.
Add cinnamon.
At this point, your kitchen will smell amazing.
The Yankee Company should immortalize this fragrance in a candle.

Add the carrots and chicken stock and some extra water if it needs it.
What exactly does that mean? I don't know. I always add a little more water than I think and if the soup is too watery, I just let it reduce until I'm happy.
So, add water until you are happy.

Bring this to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer for about 30 minutes.
Let cool.
Because it's painful should some splash on you while you are blending it away.

Cool. Cool. Cool.
Blend. Blend. Blend.

Reheat and add a little water until it's a consistency that makes you happy.
Spoon into bowls and add a dollop of Greek honey flavored yogurt.
Or not.
It's quite good either way.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

the versatility of pesto

This month's issue of Saveur arrives in the mail and I am as giddy as a school girl holding an unopened love letter in her hand.
Or, these days, perhaps it's an unopened email.
Either way, I'm happy.

And when I open it I am delighted to find a huge section on Pesto.
This is good because I have an abundance of basil growing in my little garden.
It's almost as tall as my tomatoes.
Elephant basil, if you will.

I don't really know what to with it besides offering it up as a gift to the God of Carbohydrates and throwing it on a pizza or making it into a pesto and tossing it on pasta.
However, with a little imagination it can go much farther.
The basil leaf, it turns out, is as versatile as it's cohort, the tomato.

It's good by itself, schmeared on some crusty bread.
But it really shines in this vegetable soup.

Vegetable Soup with Pesto
*adapted from Saveur Aug/Sept 2011

6 cups basil leaves
2 cups flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup toasted pecans (this is easy to do: grab a pan. heat it up. throw in the nuts. toss them around a few times and take them out when you can smell them)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan reggiano
1 clove garlic

Add all the ingredients together in a blender on high until smooth-ish

1 oz pancetta, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1/4 head of green cabbage, thinly shredded
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
1 can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
1 can cannelini beans, rinsed
cooked orzo
salt & pepper

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat render the pancetta (which, by the way is like really fancy ham) in some olive oil until brown.
Then add the garlic, carrots, celery, and onion until browned and soft.
Next comes the zucchini and cabbage. Cook this until the cabbage has wilted some.
Pour in the stock, water and tomatoes.
Bring it all to a boil.
Mash up some of the beans and add all of them to the pot.
Toss in the cooked pasta.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Once it's been served in a bowl, top it off with the pesto.
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