Friday, 30 November 2012

Carrot Soup with Ginger, Cardamom & Orange

There's a definite Indian influence to this soup, but it's subtle enough to allow it to fit in with many different menus. It's light enough to serve as starter to a large meal, although it would do just fine alongside a sandwich.

As my soup cooled I realized it would probably be just as good served cold as hot, which really makes it versatile. Making it in advance will allow the flavours to develop thoroughly, so if you can do that, it's a good idea.

6 to 8 servings
1 hour prep time

1 kilo (2 pounds) carrots
3 or 4 stalks of celery
6 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
12 green cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
the finely grated zest of 1/2 orange
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
the juice of 1 orange
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup sweet sherry

sour cream or yogurt to garnish

Scrub or peel the carrots, and cut them into chunks. Wash and trim the celery and cut it into somewhat larger chunks. Put them in a large soup pot with the water and the salt. Bring to a boil and boil gently but steadily for 30 minutes, until the carrots are tender.

Meanwhile, crush the cardamom pods enough to be able to remove the green papery husks (discard them) then grind the seeds with the peppercorns. Peel and grate the ginger. Wash the orange well (with soap) dry it, and grate the orange zest. Heat the butter in a small skillet and cook the cardomom, pepper, ginger and orange zest in it for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring regularly, until slight signs of browning appear. Put this mixture into a blender.

Lift the carrots and celery out of their cooking water and put them in the blender. Add a ladle or two of the cooking water, and purée very smoothly. You will need to do this in 2 batches; once you are done, swish out the blender with the cooking water and add it back in with the carrots (soup).

This much can be done in advance; when ready to serve the soup, add the honey, orange juice, buttermilk and sherry, and heat through. Although I rather think this could work as a cold soup in the summer as well, in which case just whisk them in. In either case, pass some good thick yogurt or sour cream with the soup.

Last year at this time I made Creamy But Non-Dairy Pumpkin Soup and Rum & Raisin Baked Apples.

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