Okay, I know that I promised to start making inroads into the mountain of recipe cuttings and clippings, but I’ve had to take a slight detour due to an unforeseen circumstance which manifested itself in the shape of a bag of carrots. You see, I’d recently managed to swamp myself in carrots by inadvertantly ordering multiple bags in the last shop, and since I abhor food waste, especially when caused by my own carelessness, I had to act quickly before they started going bad. I could already hear rustlings of disquiet and unrest in the crisper, so I started rifling through files for some suitable dish in which to appease them.
I came up with absolutely nothing. Somehow, in all my travels, I appeared to have overlooked or eschewed any and all carrot-centric recipes. Oh sure, carrots would make guest appearances in various of the recipes, a sprinking of shredded carrot here, a smattering of diced carrot there, but they were never really featured in any guise that would make my 2 lb bag problem go away. In frustration, I turned to my cookbooks, rationalising that I’d only ever tried a tiny percentage of the available resources from them, so surely I was still abiding by the spirit and letter of my own law. Right? RIGHT?!
When in doubt and in possession of large quantities of produce, opt for soup. I began scouring indices for inspiration. Carrot and coriander soup? No, couldn’t possibly. I’d done that one to death last summer, and I’m sure that Him Indoors would have started questioning my love for him if I tried to coax a single spoonful more past his lips. Roasted carrot soup? As much as I love the autumn, and despite the rather damp and dour conditions we’ve been experiencing of late, I really didn’t wish to hurry the season upon us with a soup that is clearly made for crisp days and chilly nights. Besides, who wants to spark up the oven on an August evening? Other than madpersons and Antipodeans, obviously. Spicy Carrot Peanut Soup? A ha! Interest piqued, I took the bait proffered by the good folk of the Moosewood collective from the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special book.
With all of the ingredients at hand, I was quickly able to throw this soup together. Given that it’s comprised largely of common pantry staples, this soup blossomed with a complexity of flavours, which I hadn’t really been expecting. Mildly sweet, nutty, salty, slightly sour – it had a little of everything going on in its quietly unassuming, burnished orange-hued depths. Who knew that humble carrot soup could scrub up so well? It was like discovering an exotic blossom in the midst of a dandelion patch. Definitely more than the sum of its parts, this soup was a very pleasant surprise which I shall be making it again, perhaps with a few extra chili flakes added for good measure.
The lovely Moosewoodies also suggested serving this cold, which I may well try if the Powers That Be reveal the sun to us again any time soon.
Spicy Carrot Peanut Soup
Adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 lbs carrots, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Chinese chili paste (such as Sriracha)
6 cups of water or stock, veg or chicken
2 tbsp peanut butter
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1. In your soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, salt and chili paste and cook, stirring often, on high flame for 5 minutes.
2. Add the water or stock to the vegetable mixture, cover the pot, and bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat to low flame and simmer the proto-soup until the carrots are soft, about 25 minutes.
3. Stir in the remaining ingredients – peanut butter, soy sauce and lime juice – and then allow to cool slightly. In a blender, whizz the soup into silky smoothness. Reheat if desired, and season to taste. (I felt that mine benefitted from a teaspoon or two of honey added during reheating.)