Garden Fresh: Carrot Soup with Ginger and Coconut

Our summer carrot crop is finally starting to come in, and I’m starting to see lots of nice big carrots at other farmers market booths too. Unique varieties are popping up in gardens all over the country, from the incredibly vibrant cosmic purple carrots from Baker Creek Seed Company to the rainbow carrots from Johnny’s Seeds.

This soup is all about improvisation, with rich coconut milk and fiery hot thai chili peppers and lime juice and garden fresh veggies.

Everyone knows that I’m the Queen of Lazy when it comes to keeping my fridge stocked with anything to cook with.  (I could say that I am eating local and right out of the garden if I wanted to sound like one of the cool kids…)  It’s really also laziness though, and being way too busy to go shopping.  At the end of a long work day, who wants to stop by the store and buy stuff for dinner? Not me.  This ends in a whole lot of improvisation, which I encourage the rest of the universe to participate in. I could have called this Farmers Market Reject Produce Soup, because it’s really just my leftovers from our booth at the market. You could do something similar and make this soup with from a CSA share or your own garden.  Feel free to substitute yellow summer squash for the cauliflower, or even some of the carrots too, it will still be delicious. (To really get crazy, you could actually substitute any winter squash for the carrots and cauliflower. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, you name it.)

Learn how to improvise when you cook and you can be Queen Lazy with me.  Free yourself from the grocery list, you know you wanna…

Carrot Ginger Soup With Coconut Milk And Lemongrass

Serves: 6 large servings

Cooking Time: 2 1/2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. roughly chopped carrots, about 3 small bunches
  • 2 small heads of cauliflower, preferably Cheddar*, cored and roughly chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tbs. unrefined peanut oil (or canola oil is a fine substitute)
  • 1 fresh onion, both the bulb and the greens, diced
  • 3″ section of lemongrass, left whole (to remove later)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 2″ section of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp. red mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 small dried thai chili peppers, crushed
  • 6 c. filtered water or vegetable stock
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • garnish: chopped scallions, basil, mint and cilantro (or whatever you have), a splash of tabasco sauce or hot paprika, and a big squeeze of fresh lime juice
In a large soup pot, heat up the peanut oil on medium-low heat. Add the coriander, mustard seed, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, chili peppers, lemongrass, and onion. Saute on low heat for 4-5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. The spices will become very aromatic as they saute in the oil. If you need to add another teaspoon or two of oil to prevent things from sticking, go right ahead. 
Add the chopped carrots and sections of cauliflower and saute for another 4-5 minutes.  Then pour in the water (or vegetable stock, if you have it on hand), turn up the heat to medium and bring everything to a simmer. Cook on medium heat for about an hour and a half (or longer, if you get distracted and forget about it). Add water or stock to make sure the vegetables stay covered as they cook. 
After the soup has simmered for the hour and half, add in the cilantro and coconut milk. Remove the piece of lemongrass and discard. Puree with a hand mixer, in a blender or a food processor until the soup is completely smooth. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste. If the soup tastes bland (this part is important, it makes it taste like take-out Thai food) add fresh lime juice, tabasco sauce, and salt, alternating in small batches until it tastes right.
Serve with chopped fresh herbs, hot sauce and limes. This soup is delicious with summer rolls or a small cabbage and peanut salad; it makes a wonderful light meal out of the garden or the farmers market.
*Cheddar is a bright yellow variety of cauliflower that is becoming more popular at farmers markets. The yellow color blends nicely with the carrots, but you could certainly use any variety.
P.S. I know that’s a long ingredient list for supposedly not going shopping before you make the soup.  Really it’s just spices and coconut milk, though. If you do one or two big shoppings a year and pick up a nice variety of dry goods you won’t have to worry about it after that.
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