My love affair with soup continues. This week I made a carrot yogurt soup adapted from The Vegetarian Epicure - Book Two by Anna Thomas, a wonderful cookbook published in 1978 that I picked up at our local thrift store.
The spine of the book is broken, some of the pages are loose, and there are slips of paper tucked between the pages or 'good one' written in the margins to mark a favorite recipe. The fact that it was well-used was a recommendation in itself. This classic vegetarian cookbook presents recipes that are accessible, but rich and comforting...think Julia gone vegetarian and living in Southern California in the seventies, or Alice Waters, for that matter.
I am inspired by soups because they are a very efficient delivery method for vegetables, which I never get enough of in my diet. Carrot soup is something I've never tried before...and one thing I love about cooking is challenging myself to try new flavors and ingredients. Best of all, once you've made a batch of soup, you can keep a pot in the fridge and dip into it during the week for a quick lunch. Soups are the perfect economical fare: you can create one out of nearly anything you have in the pantry or fridge and they go far on little investment.
I was drawn to Ms. Thomas' recipe for carrot soup for two reasons: I could incorporate yogurt, which is a good source of protein. Mom isn't feeling well right now, creating highly nutritional meals has become a priority since her appetite is pretty scarce and she can't afford to lose weight. Second, the recipe calls for an interesting melange of spices which remind me of the Moroccan flavors I've enjoyed in other dishes.
Another reason I was inspired to try this recipe is more global: I have shelves and shelves of cookbooks that I've collected over the past twenty years. The other day I was standing in front of the bookcase that contains many of these books and realized that quite honestly, I've probably cooked out of the same 6 or 12 books for all that time. I decided that I'd like to challenge myself to pick up a different cookbook each week or so and try at least one recipe. I'll let you know how it turns out...
Here's the carrot-yogurt soup with my modifications:
4 Tbs butter
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp ginger
1 pinch kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 lb carrots shredded
Juice of one lemon
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 cups Greek-style yogurt
1 Tbs honey
The soup is quite easy to assemble:
1. In a dutch oven or heavy-bottom sauce pan, melt the butter and saute the onions, garlic and carrots until the onions are translucent. Add the spices and continue to cook the vegetables for five minutes until they are thoroughly coated by the spices.
2. Add the chicken stock, and lemon, cover the pot and cook the carrots for 45 minutes. Using a stick blender, blend the soup until the carrots are pureed. You may also use a food processor or blender for this step, returning the soup to the pot when blended.
4. Reduce heat to low and gently whisk in the yogurt and honey. Heat the soup for five minutes, bringing it up to temperature. Garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprig of parsley.
A hunk of warm bread slathered with butter would go very nicely.
May also be served cold.