Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Carrots on Parade (Ginger Carrot Bisque)

A few weeks ago, we went to FarmAid, the benefit concert founded by Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews to benefit small family farms. It was a fun event featuring terrific music and great food--only from local organic farms. Even the Chipotle chain tent sourced their ingredients from family farms. My favorite highlights of the evening were John Mellencamp's violinist, who fiddled like a woman possessed, and the photographs of produce, farming, and harvesting that played in the background the whole time. I still maintain one scene included dancing carrots.

It's harder to dance when pureed
I first made this carrot ginger bisque last Easter Sunday, pairing it with Welsh rabbit (no rabbits were harmed in the making of this supper) and a simple salad of baby lettuces dressed with raspberry raw honey vinaigrette. Apropos as it is for Spring, it also fits in well with Autumn, when we harvest root vegetables to lay them down for the winter. Hearty veggies form the rich bulk and body of this soup in the place of heavy cream and a warm jolt of bright, peptic fresh ginger root is the perfect foil for seasons marked by cool rain.

Winter stores
An immersion blender makes this one of the easiest meals you could prepare, but a blender or food processor will do. Don't fill these more than halfway--do it in batches, if necessary--and leave the lid ever so slightly ajar while carefully covering it with a thick, heavy kitchen towel. Hot liquids expand, so it's important to give them room to go and watch out for splatters.

Tarragon is not an herb you see very often in standard American fare, but Julia Child notes it as one of the cardinal herbs of French cuisine. It has a tangy, green character, underscored by a vivid note of licorice. If you're not a licorice fan, though, don't worry. Simmered lightly in the soup as bouquet garni, its mellow perfume ties together the pungent ginger and sweetly earthy carrots, forming a harmony that keeps the licorice note in check. A few dabs of butter and drizzle of honey swirl in for the finish. There may not be any dancing carrots, but it should dance on your taste buds.

Food in balance
Ginger carrot bisque

Fresh ginger roots have a woody, fibrous texture that can make them difficult to cut or grate finely. As it all ends with an immersion blender anyway, you can cut everything fairly large this go around, but for easy ginger grating in the future, peel the root, seal it in plastic, and then freeze it solid. It will grate beautifully on a micro-plane, forming powdery, gingery snow.

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 large sweet onions, diced
2" piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and slivered
2 lbs carrots, peeled and chopped
4 c vegetable stock
1 large sprig fresh tarragon
2 tbs honey (vegan: agave syrup)
2 tbs butter (vegan: margarine)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Warm the oil over medium heat in a heavy Dutch oven or stock pot, then add the onions and sauté until translucent, about five minutes. Add the slivered ginger and cook 1 minute more.

The star performer makes an entrance
Add the stock and carrots and bring to a gentle boil, then drop in the sprig of tarragon. Simmer until the vegetables are fork-tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Backup singer
Remove the pot from the heat and discard the tarragon. Use a blender or food processor to puree until thick and smooth.

The final curtain
Return the soup to the warm burner and stir in the butter and honey. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve the soup in warmed bowls with a tiny pat of butter or spoonful of sour cream and sprinkle of chopped fresh tarragon. Serves 4 as bowls, 8 as cups.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Bugs Bunny would approve. I do, too.