Eating better food for less and other tales from a no-moneymoon

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Date with Soup

This soup has all the features I'm looking for in a meal: fast, full of veggie goodness, thrifty ingredients, filling. In short, my perfect lunch date.

** This photo looks like yellow mush. It's really more like orange mush. I tried.

Carrot Soup
Serves 1 nicely

1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 c. baby carrots, sliced
1 c. chicken stock
1/2 pink grapefruit, membrane removed
Salt and pepper

In a saucepan, cook onion and ginger in olive oil over medium heat. When they start to smell great and look a little cooked, add carrots (I used baby carrots because that's what I usually buy for $1) followed by chicken stock.

A note: I make my own chicken stock not to be fancy pants about it, but as part of my no ingredient left behind program. That chicken I was picking apart last week? Its last bits and bones went into the stock, which I'll post about later. I like to freeze the stock in ice cube trays or in one cup measurements, since I rarely use one whole pot but rather throw it into multiple dishes.

Let the carrots simmer and when they are almost fully tender add the grapefruit. This is a subtle flavor, so you could try adding more, but I don't like overwhelming the carrots and ginger. Or skip the grapefruit altogether.

When the carrots are fully tender, turn off the stove and let the soup cool a little. Then transfer to a blender and puree or liquify. Me? I puree since I'm ok with a little more texture.

Return the mixture to the pan and simmer, adding salt and pepper to taste. I walked away and it thickened more than I wanted. Solution? I added about 1/4 c. water to the blender, ran it to gather up some of the soup that was left behind and added it to the saucepan. Bonus: the blender was that much easier to clean!

And then I got fancy...
I thought about veggie soups I'd had at restaurants and how they get dressed up. The answer:
Chive Oil

8 chives
1 1/2 Tablespoons walnut oil
Salt and pepper

I had never made chive oil and I couldn't believe how simple this was going to be. A little internet searching turned up a recipe on the Oprah site (not where I usually go for recipes, but it had the easiest instructions). The recipe from a book called The Conscious Cook is here. Did I follow all the steps? Of course not. Too many dirty dishes for my laziness.

Here's what I did instead: I didn't blanch the chives, I put them in a strainer, balanced it on top of the already steaming soup mixture and covered the strainer with tin foil. I let it sit there for about 1 minute and then removed the strainer from the heat and ran it under cool water from the tap.

Cut up the steamed chives and put in a mortar. Add the walnut oil and salt and pepper and then grind away. I was surprised at how quickly the oil turns a pretty green shade. Strain and drizzle on top of carrot soup.

The chive oil added a nice contrast to the spiciness of the carrot soup, looked pretty and made this an omega-3 rich dish.

Veggie-tastic lunch
Bunny food that's spicy and filling
Pretty way to use up carrots and other leftover ingredients

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