Carrot-Ginger Soup

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Carrot-Ginger Soup

Carrot-Ginger Soup

The original plan was to make recipe numero dos in my quest to cook the book Easy Vegan – Simple Recipes for Healthy Eating. But then I found the bag of baby carrots in the freezer.

If this freezing had been planned, the carrots would have been blanched first, then frozen. Alas, this had not been the case. Still, it was a goodly amount of carrots and I hated to just throw them away. There had to be a way (a safe from food-borne illness way) to use these now thawed, soggy carrots.

Plan A: Roast them. So I thawed the carrots, drained as much water away as I could, then put them on a baking pan in a single layer. I seasoned the carrots with poultry seasoning (no worries, vegans – this is just a label for a combination of spices you probably have in your pantry right now) and some sea salt. 30 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven later – I thought Plan A had been the right approach.

Result: Hot, well-seasoned, and soggy carrots. Obviously, I needed a new plan.

Plan B: Saute them. I had a spare bit of Earth Balance Butter so why not toss the roasted carrots into a skillet and see if adding some buttery flavor would help. The carrot texture was still limp and soggy at the start; I was hoping the transfer of heat through conduction would steam the remaining water from the carrot’s cells, thusly reviving the original texture of a solid carrot.

Result: Very hot, well-seasoned, buttery, and still soggy carrots. Yes, you are right – time for the next plan.

Plan C: Make a soup. If there were any unwanted bacteria on the carrots due to the unplanned freezing, the roasting, sauteing and now soup-making should have been to kill those nasty things off. Chef’s tip: reducing the risk from unwanted bacteria is one very important reason why you blanch carrots first, then freeze them.

Result: It worked!

Since I do not want you to deal with accidentally frozen, unblanched carrots, let’s assume we are starting from scratch here. Try this recipe if you want a nice hot soup that tastes good, keeps the chill away, and is probably good for you!

Ingredients

1.5 – 2.0 pounds of fresh carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks the size of large wine corks

Olive oil

Poultry Seasoning

Sea Salt

4 Tablespoons (or more if you dare) of fresh ginger, chopped.

2 cloves of garlic

2 Tablespoon of black peppercorns

4 cups vegetable stock

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup coconut cream, or full-fat coconut milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place carrots on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the carrots- not too much, just a quick drizzle over all of them.

Sprinkle poultry seasoning and sea salt on top. Again, not too much, but make sure every piece of carrot has some seasoning.

Bake for 30 minutes or until tender. Turn the carrots every once in a while if they start to char up on the underside. Nobody likes burned carrots. Not even rabbits.

When done, remove from the oven and let rest. Now go look for your food processor or blender. It’s that device hiding in the back of the lowest cupboard shelf you have. That’s where the things you need always end up. See it? Good.

You may have to do this next part in batches, depending on the size of your food processor/blender.

Put the roasted carrots into the food processor. Adding the fresh ginger, garlic, peppercorns, and a cup or so of the vegetable stock, puree the ingredients. Transfer the mixture to a stock pot.

Once all of the carrot mixture is in the stock pot, stir in the remaining vegetable stock, sugar, and coconut cream. Keep stirring occasionally, and heat the soup until it just starts to boil. Now turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes. Continue to stir every once in a while, just to keep carrot solids from sticking to the bottom of the stock pot.

Once done – serve it up! And what you don’t use? Why, you can freeze it, of course.

I hope you have enjoyed my tale of kitchen (mis)adventures. And I hope you enjoy the soup!

Godt Nytar!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato & Corn – a Savory Summer Soup!

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A savory sweet potato & corn soup!

Still being relatively new to the Eastern Shore, and not owning our own farm, we have many friendly neighbors who stop by to share vegetables from their own gardens. This week we received fresh tomatoes and red banana peppers, plus a few yellow squash. What to do, what to do?

The corn fields are at the point where they should be harvested soon. The drought we are experiencing right now isn’t helping; I am not sure how long the corn will be available so…

Sweet potato and corn soup!

I’ll save the tomatoes and the yellow squash for another day. Still need to get a sweet potato and some corn. A while back, I learned one (of the many) secrets of the Shore, something kept close to the chest by most here, and for good reason – the location an unmanned vegetable stand that uses the honor system for payment.

Known as the Fresh Market (although there is no sign) it is located at…wait, I’m not supposed to tell…sorry. (I will say this, it’s on the Eastern Shore and it’s by a corn field. Now you have to do the leg work to find it. Good luck!) Anyhow, the Fresh Market has a variety of vegetables, refreshed daily by the farmers nearby. There is usually a handwritten price list tacked to the wall, sometimes prices are written on the larger items, such as melons. There is a cash box nailed to the wall; just put enough cash in to cover what you take. The honor system! Apparently it still works well here; not sure this would happen in Virginia Beach. 😦

Just pay for what you take...

I picked up some corn, only 6 ears needed for the soup, and they were priced at $3 a dozen. My lovely wife put money in the box – I bet she paid for a dozen anyway. Hey, the family farmers need all the help they can get!

Now for the soup. This was my first time creating this pseudo chowder and I must say it turned out better than I imagined.

Sweet Potato – Corn Soup

1 large Sweet Potato, peeled and cubed into pieces no larger than a 1/2 inch.
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 can (14 oz) Chicken Stock
1 can (14 oz) Water
6 ears of corn, shucked, kernels shaved of the cob
1/2 Red Banana Pepper, seeded, chopped
1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
Salt to taste (please use some! It makes a difference!)
1/2 cup Oyster Crackers, crushed almost into a fine meal consistency

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Then start preparing the vegetables.

Put the sweet potato cubes in a baking dish, slather with the Olive oil.
Roast the sweet potatoes in the oven for 10 minutes, stir a bit to prevent sticking, then roast for another 10 minutes. If they are not fully cooked, it’s alright.

In a large sauce pan, place the roasted sweet potatoes and the rest of the ingredients except the crushed oyster crackers.

Stir the ingredients to mix in the seasonings, then heat on the stove top until the soup starts boiling. Reduce heat and let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add the crushed oyster crackers bit by bit, stirring after each addition, until the soup thickens to your liking.

There you have it – you are done! Serves 4.

It’s not a chowder in the traditional sense; there is no milk or heavy cream added. But… the cheddar cheese gives this soup a nice creaminess and the oyster crackers thicken everything without the slick taste of corn starch or the lumps of flour. The banana pepper isn’t hot at all; it gives the soup a nice textural element plus some color.

The best part is the sweetness of the orange potato cubes and fresh corn, balanced against the savory seasonings of the cayenne and black pepper.

Sweet Potato – Corn Soup. Perfect with a BLT on a nice summer evening by the outdoor fireplace. Try it and let me know what you think!

Divine Turkey Fettuccine

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A quick and easy dish - great during Winter!

So the snow started falling, the temperature was dropping, and the last thing we wanted to do was to leave the comfort of the warm parsonage. With leftover baked turkey in the fridge (seems like we always have leftover turkey this time of year…) I pre-heated the oven with the goal of making a decision on what to cook  by the time the oven signaled it was at temp.  Here’s what I did:

Divine Turkey Fettuccine

8 oz. Fettuccine noodles

dash of salt

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 can Campbell’s Cream of Chicken and Mushroom Soup *

8 oz. frozen broccoli florets, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

4 cups baked turkey, chopped or shredded

2 tablespoons poultry seasoning

8 oz. Colby Jack cheese, shredded

* I always use Campbell’s brand soup.  I am not compensated by them in any way; I just like their soup!

Directions:

Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the noodles according to the directions on the box.  I add a dash of salt and a teaspoon of vegetable oil to the water before heating. The salt helps “tenderize” the noodles and the oil helps in keeping pasta “foam” from rising too much.

In a medium sauce pan, heat the cream of chicken soup. Don’t forget to add that can of water if the directions on the can call for it!

While the noodles and the soup are cooking, get a large bowl, cutting board and a sharp chef’s knife. If you don’t have a “chef’s knife,” any large knife capable of safely chopping vegetables will do.  Just make sure it is sharp. No need for an unexpected trip to the hospital…

Take the frozen broccoli florets out of the package and place them on the cutting board. Using your chef’s knife, carefully chop the florets into small bits.  You could thaw the broccoli first, but it’s easier to chop them up when they are still frozen. Put the chopped broccoli into the large bowl.

To the broccoli, add the minced garlic. Stir it in well – this way much of the garlic gets trapped in the little broccoli buds as the florets thaw.  Mmmm, tasty!

Now take your leftover turkey, placing it on the cutting board of coarse, and chop or shred it into small, tasty morsels.

Season the chopped turkey with the poultry seasoning. You can add salt and/or pepper if you like. Never hurts. Add the chopped and seasoned turkey to the broccoli. Mix with your wooden spoon! (Why “wooden” spoon? – because Chef Rudolf always insisted on using a wooden spoon – for everything!)

Now the good part…

Add the shredded Colby Jack cheese to the broccoli – turkey mixture. Like the old commercial says: “Behold,the power of cheese!”

By now, your noodles should be done cooking. If you haven’t already done so, drain the water.

Using your favorite cooking spray, grease up a large casserole dish or 11×13 glass baking dish.

– Put the noodles in the baking dish.

– Spoon the turkey/broccoli/cheese mixture evenly over the noodles. Mix it into the noodles a bit if you want. It’s up to you.

– Pour the hot soup on top. It will seep down into the nooks and crannies, making for a fabulous, creamy texture!

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Uncovered.

At that point, check the top. If it’s starting to look too brown from the cheese cooking, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Continue baking for ten more minutes.

When the timer dings, you will have a great meal ready to warm you up on a cold evening!

Happy eating!