Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hook 'Em Horns Curried Carrot Soup

October is Soup Month at our house. Football is in full swing by now and I appreciate the ease of having soup made ahead for weekend football watching.  I can reheat the soup slowly, keeping a close eye on the game, and have my meal ready to roll at halftime.

I also like having soup on hand for Halloween.  I am chief doorbell answerer and candy hander outer, so I want something easy for dinner that night plus something I can reheat if the traffic on the front porch keeps me away from my meal for very long at a time.

I have two or three reliably delicious soup recipes already in my repertoire but I wanted to branch out this year.

I had most of a bunch of organic carrots already on hand, and being a lifetime UT Longhorn fan figured I couldn't go wrong with a basic orange color scheme.  Enter this simple recipe I found on the Food Network site for  Curried Carrot Soup.

I liked the looks of this for all sorts of reasons besides the potential for a gorgeously Hook'Em Horns orange hue.  The prep looked easy and there weren't 426 ingredients to wrangle.  Turns out it was every bit as flavorful as it was colorful, so let's get down to work and make some soup together.  I'm going to walk you through the recipe as written, but read ahead to get some seasoning notes, deal?

Peel and thinly slice 8 medium carrots, 4 medium celery stalks, and rough chop a medium onion.

In a large pot put 3 tablespoons of olive oil adding in 2 teaspoons of curry powder. Stir over medium heat for one or two minutes until the mixture is fragrant.

Add the sliced vegetables to the oil and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes.  Be prepared to spend most of the last 7 of those minutes fighting the impulse to get a spoon and eat everything in the pan at that point, the mix of vegetables and spices smells that good.

Stir in 5 cups of chicken broth and let that come to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and let it cook about 10-12 minutes until the vegetables are very tender.

If you don't trust the timing or your eyes, the tenderness is easy to determine by putting a couple of the thickest carrot slices you can find on a plate and seeing if they are easy to cut with a fork.  Or you could use a spoon against the side of the pot.  I was curious about what seemed to me the teensy amount of curry called for in this recipe so I wanted an early taste.

Once your veggies are tender remove the pot from the heat and let it stand 10 or so minutes.  Then you'll want to remove the oil from the top of the soup by laying a paper towel on top to blot it off.  Carefully discard the oily towel.  No, I didn't take a photo of the oily paper towel.  You're welcome.
Please be careful blending hot stuff - you know the drill and if you don't refer to your owner's manual before trying this the first time.  You want to enjoy eating all of this soup, not end up wearing it.
Working in 2 cup batches transfer the soup to a blender and puree.

Once the soup is pureed, return it to a pan over medium heat and reheat through.  Season with a tablespoon of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

Folks, here is where I parted company with the recipe in a big way.  I felt this soup was headed in a good direction but to me to it still needed a big seasoning boost. I'd already started out with one more teaspoon of curry powder than was called for.  My soup so far still tasted too carroty I thought.  Not enough depth of flavor for me though I realized a hiatus overnight in the refrigerator might fix some of that.  I decided to add more curry powder along with some cayenne pepper after  getting the lemon juice, salt and white pepper added in to taste.  By the time I finished sprinkling and stirring and tasting and sprinkling again, I'd added in another tablespoon of curry powder and about 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne.

Next time I make this, and oh yes, there will definitely be a next time, I plan on starting out with two tablespoons of curry powder in the oil.  I will try a half and half blend of hot Madras curry and regular and see if it still needs a boost from cayenne at the end.  I could certainly see playing with other toasted spice mixtures just to see a few of the different places this soup can go.  To me that is in great part the beauty of a simple soup base like this one.  You can absolutely customize the seasoning to suit your needs.

But what you really need is some curried carrot soup for starters.

This soup has great mouth feel.  It is super creamy tasting without an ounce of dairy fat other than the topping I chose for my first bowl.  I will take this batch all sorts of different directions with garnishes to keep from getting bored. I also predict this soup is going to provide fun color play served as an entree while watching UT football later this month.  Yeah, that's right - I am one of those people who would absolutely take my color cues for a meal to coordinate with my home team uniforms.  And yeah, I'm not blind - carrots may not result in burnt orange soup - but they come close enough.

Today I used a chipotle crema topping on the bowl I had for lunch.  Before I licked the bowl clean I tried the soup with a bit of smoked cheddar flavor popcorn on top just for fun. It was awesome.  I plan on crumbling bacon and a little grated sharp cheese on top to get the Hub to enthusiastically try some later this week for dinner.  If I decide I want to dress it up, say for a Thanksgiving appetizer, brown butter sautéed sage leaves would be an elegant finishing touch.

Organic onions, celery and carrots are available in practically every grocery store these days.  Hie thee to your favorite, buy yourself some and in about 40 minutes you can have your own batch of delicious Curried Carrot Soup.  Healthy, delicious, easy.  Hook 'Em horns orange.  Looks like all winners from here.


Iris said...

Thanks, Deb--this sounds great! I'm like you: bound to add more curry than the recipe says. I might sautee a little chopped jalapeno and/or ginger in there, too. Yum! Can't wait to try this one.

TexasDeb said...

Oooh Iris - I believe you may win the prize for suggested add ins - ginger and jalapeño sound just right.

And yup, sure enough the Longhorns beat Nebraska yesterday. Am I saying my orange soup was the reason they won? Maybe it is, maybe not. But I guess we will never know.......

Kathleen Scott said...

I'm just catching up and was tickled to see the curried carrot soup. I've got POUNDS of organic carrots in the fridge right now...

And I'm with you & Iris about adding more curry and some bite. I usually think recipes are too light in the bite department. You think it's because we're Texans and eat jalapenos on our sandwiches instead of pickles?

Charlie Hills said...

Hey, where you bean? Haven't heard from you in a while.

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