Carrot-Ginger Soup with Lemon
Soup might not seem like an especially fitting spring endeavor, but in Brooklyn now, where it is sunny and 70 degrees one day and moody and cold the next, soup feels right. Especially when it is a bright, light one like this.
It would have never come into being were it not for the carrots at the farmer’s market, an especially young and sprightly looking bunch, unignorable in blightless, look-at-me orange. I grabbed three, not knowing what I would do with them, and hoping their end wouldn’t be boring or worse. Far too many vegetables spend their last days in my crisper drawers, giving up until they’re wan and limp.
I searched “carrots” on my Epicurious app, as I often do in this situation, and this rendering just about fell in my lap. It was my jumping off point. Simple, but still exciting, this soup has a warm, bracing hit of ginger along with a lift of lemon. I love it because it is so healthy (doesn’t it feel enlivening just to look at?), and because it saved me more than once. It was an easy snack one afternoon, plain and unadorned, and a fast hit-the-spot dinner one night, served over farro, and scattered with cilantro and mint. (I bought the herbs on that same farmer’s market run, and miraculously, I have kept them alive in their little pots out on the fire escape.) I dusted it with cayenne pepper, but a spoonful of Greek yogurt would have been a sultry companion, too. Half of the batch stands by at the ready in the freezer, ready to sweep in again at the next hungry moment.
I think this is why I’ve been blogging so little about cooking lately: they aren’t so much recipes I’m working with as they are components thrown together in various pairings. A bunch of sautéed kale appears with brown rice at dinner, then is scrambled with eggs the next morning. Leftover cooked grains go into a frittata, or to bulk up a soup, or get sautéed with herbs and nuts and served alongside roast chicken. When I do manage to get myself in front of the stove, I cook more than I need, and store the rest in the fridge or freezer. If it’s there and ready to use, chances are I will. It’s not a particularly exciting way to eat, and invariably my combinations involve garlic, soy sauce, and brown rice vinegar, but it’s working for me. It feels easy and simple and healthy, and there’s something reassuring about it. Without relying on our cookbooks or recipes, what happens when we just get down to practice of making a meal? As is often the case, we know more than we think.
I really tinkered with the original recipe, which I used more as a flavor profile inspiration.
Carrot-Ginger Soup with Lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 tablespoon grated ginger
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
3 cups (or more) water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until softened. Add ginger and garlic and sauté another couple of minutes. Add chopped carrots, cauliflower, and tomato paste; sauté 1 minute. Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly.
Puree soup in batches in blender. Return soup to pot. Mix in lemon juice and zest. Season with salt and pepper. Bring soup to a simmer, and thin with additional water if it’s thick.