Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cream of Carrot Soup with Ginger Sugar

While this gorgeous winter soup is excellent served hot, it’s also one of my hot-weather favorites served chilled. I often find carrot soups made with orange juice 
The cream in this excellent soup comes
from its puréed carrots and onions 

a little bland, but the Ginger Sugar topper on this soup elevates it to a level that I can only describe as sublime (Reader applause: “Thenk yew … thenk yew ver’ mush!” - NP). My recipe follows at the end of this post. I’m a big fan of garnishing, particularly for special occasions. Garnishing is the finishing touch - the final flourish that makes a dish look “special.” 

This soup provides a good example of that. Well in advance of serving, pipe and chill unsweetened whipping cream rosettes to decorate the soup’s centre. Over and around that, add a light flurry of Ginger Sugar. Around the rosette, sprinkle chives snipped in ¼-in. lengths for a pop of color. Your beautifully garnished soup is now on a par with those served in fine restaurants! 

Cream of Carrot Soup with Ginger Sugar:

1 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large, sweet onion, coarsely chopped
5 or 6 large carrots, peeled and chopped 
1 tbsp. ginger purée (see Note)
4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup orange juice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Melt butter and olive oil in large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots and sauté, stirring constantly, 4-to-5 min. Stir in ginger purée, continuing to stir 2 min. longer to combine flavors. Add stock and orange juice. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to simmer. Simmer, covered, about 20 min. or until carrots are tender. Cool to room temperature.

Working in batches, pureé mixture on highest speed of blender, transferring puréed mixture to large container. Repeat process, puréeing a second time until even the smallest lump is gone. Season to taste. To serve hot, reheat over low heat and serve at once. Alternately, refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, serving in chilled bowls with the garnish below. Serves 4-to-6.

To Garnish:

Decorate each bowl with unsweetened whipped cream rosettes, fresh chives snipped into ¼-in. lengths, and Ginger Sugar, all made ahead as needed. Pass a small bowl of additional Ginger Sugar at the table.

Ginger Sugar:

½ c. raw (“turbinado”) sugar
2 tsp. ginger purée (see Note)

The day before serving, combine sugar and ginger purée to ensure purée is well distributed. Mixture will be moist. Spread to dry at least 6 hr. on parchment or wax paper, stirring occasionally. Fully dry mixture will form hard granules. Place in zippered plastic bag. Seal, crushing granules with heavy rolling pin. Immediately transfer to small, uncovered bowl, allowing to dry further. Sugar is now ready for use.

Note: You’ll find ginger purée in the produce department of major supermarkets adjacent to such other conveniences as garlic purée, for example. If you don’t see it, ask your grocer to get some! You can make this soup and its Ginger Sugar accompaniment with slivers of fresh, peeled ginger, but I find the purée a more exact measurement, as well as being more convenient. 

Cook carrots and onions in butter and olive oil; add ginger purée

Simmer until tender, about 20 min. Blenderize in small batches

Use peeled slivers of fresh ginger or ginger purée

Allow Ginger Sugar to dry several hours before use

Further Note: Make your own 
ginger purée!
All together now: WOW!
Peel and finely chop fresh ginger, blenderizing it with enough water to make a paste; a small amount of ginger may require only a few drops. 
An electric coffee grinder used exclusively for spices is the best and easiest way to blenderize a small amount of fresh ginger. And here’s a tip that - once tried - you’ll never forget! The best and easiest way to peel fresh ginger is with the side of a small, sturdy spoon. You’ll easily scrape away a thin layer of skin (the ginger’s - not yours) without cutting away more than you want, and wasting some of the ginger

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