This is part of why I wanted to be a CSA member – to get random vegetables and have no immediate idea what I wanted to do with them, thereby forcing me to figure out new uses, new preparations. Part of our Box 2 offering was a big, beautiful 2-pound bunch of carrots. The weird freeze Austin experienced earlier this month managed to intensify their sweetness, and while we ate some of them as they were, I wanted to do something special with the rest. I picked up a random cookbook that I hadn’t opened in years and found a lovely recipe for Carrot Garlic Soup.
A million years ago, when I was still religiously watching the Food Network and trying to absorb whatever culinary information it had to offer, I wound up purchasing a few cookbooks by those TV chefs. One of these chefs is Ming Tsai (some of you may remember him as the East Meets West guy). His cookbook, Blue Ginger: East Meets West Cooking with Ming Tsai (so named for his Wellesley, Massachusetts restaurant) contains recipes ranging from simple to complex, and often with unique flavor combinations.
The soup I chose to make this time was relatively simple. The soup itself was a sweet and peppery puree that was lent a subtle aromatic undertone (though maybe a little too subtle for my taste) by the healthy dose of garlic added into the mix. A garnish of diced potato sauteed in curry oil lent textural interest to the otherwise smooth soup. Were I to do this soup again, I would find a way to bring out the garlicky goodness a bit more – maybe ease up a little on the pepper and add a bit of pan-fried garlic as a garnish. Listed below is the way I made it this time.
CARROT GARLIC SOUP with CURRY POTATO HASH
1. In a small bowl, combine the curry powder and a pinch of salt with ¼ cup of water and mix to form a paste. Whisk in the oil slowly. Allow the oil to stand for one hour. At the end of the hour, pour it slowly through a paper towel-lined mesh strainer to strain the curry powder solids from the curry oil.
2. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the oil and allow it to heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute till very brown, 10-15 minutes.
3. Add the brown sugar, white pepper, celery, and carrots. Season with a bit of salt and continue to saute till the carrots are slightly browned. Add the stock, reduce the heat to low, and simmer till the vegetables are soft, about thirty minutes.
4. While the vegetables are simmering, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the curry oil and heat to 375 degrees (F). Add the potatoes and fry, turning as needed to achieve even golden-brown color. Drain the potatoes on a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt while still warm.
5. To serve, make a mound of potatoes in the middle of a shallow soup plate and pour the soup around them. If you are like me and like to indulge in your as-yet-unseen food styling talent, you may also drizzle the soup decoratively with a bit of the leftover curry oil.