On a rather infrequent visit to the nearest town with a bookstore with an English section of any size, I picked up the latest edition of Kansai Time Out. Skimming through I found not one but three vegetarian-friendly soup recipes that can be made without stock. Stock is usually the sticking point for vegetarians as its often made with meat or fish. Vegetable stock is very possible, but it's on my list of things to learn to do. So I was really happy to see a recipe for carrot soup that seemed just right to start off a Sunday morning before a trip. I'm going to Shodoshima Island today in hopes of tracking down the elusive Japanese olive. I'll try to get some pictures, though I doubt now is the season for olives on the trees. Still, I'm excited.
To calm the belly and add just the right amount of filling comfort to a Sunday morning, try my adaptation. I used finely chopped dry coconut soaked in hot water for a bit more of a mealy texture, but the recipe would be made smoother, and creamier, if you use the canned coconut milk. I also used a dried chili pepper which I toasted in the oil first and then pureed with about 2/3 of the soup.
Carrot Soup for a Sunday Morning
adapted from Spiced Carrot Soup in "The Great Restorer", by Aidan O'Connor
500 g carrots thinly sliced
2 small or 1 large onion thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic chopped
1 2-3 cm piece of ginger, cut in matchsticks
1 dry red chili pepper
2 Tb oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 can coconut milk or a few cups of dry coconut and soaking water
water as needed
parsley to garnish
In a large pan, heat the oil. (I used my lovely blue-as-the-sky enameled wok from Paul Bocuse, but any largish soup pot or wok would work.) Toast the seeds and garlic in the oil for about a minute, then add the sliced onions and cook a few more minutes until they are a bit brown and carmelized. Add carrots and turmeric and lower the heat. At this point, season with a sprinkle of sea salt and some freshly ground pepper, but not too much. You can adjust the seasoning at the end. Here you just want to imbue the vegetables with some flavour. I believe in layering the seasoning as I've found the cooking-in adds something special. Stir around, adding about a quarter cup of water to start the cooking. Add a bit more water if it evaporates, just to lubricate things. After about 10 minutes of cooking and stirring, add the coconut milk and water as needed to make a thickish soup. Simmer until the carrots are tender and turn off the heat. When its cool enough, put in the food processor in batches and puree to the degree you like. I pureed about 2/3 and left some chunky onions and carrots because I love texture. You might like it smooth. Add salt and pepper to your taste and serve warm garnished with a bit of parsley, if you have it. I think a bit of grated fresh ginger on top might also add a bright flavour.