Roasted Carrot Soup

Roasted-Carrot-Soup-with-Crispy-Chickpeas

I’m not sure why, but I’ve never really been a huge carrot fan. You know when you are chomping on some carrots and one turns out to taste bitter and almost rancid? Your face grimaces and it’s all  you can do to survive the 3 seconds it takes to spit it out. Or is that just me? This is a thing, I promise. I think I live in fear that any carrot could be that carrot. But, my friends, this is no way to live!

I decided to brave my carrot-ey fears when I  came across Five and Spice’s Roasted Carrot Soup that added some orange and cumin to the mix.  My mind whirred and my glands salivated at the prospect of such simple flavors combining gloriously. Plus I thought that roasting carrots would prevent the Dreaded Bitter Carrot by bringing out the natural sugars. Add some garlic in there, and you’ve got a soup going!

Roasted Carrot Soup topped with crispy chickpeas

– adapted from Five and Spice’s recipe

Wash, peel and roughly chop carrots in 1/2 – 1 inch pieces. On a parchment lined baking sheet, toss in carrots and garlic cloves, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and black pepper. Make sure it is all evenly coated and spread out. Throw a rosemary sprig or two on the sheet and bake till it looks and smells gorgeous, about 25-35 minutes or so. Stir once or twice.

Heat up a bit of olive oil in your soup pot and throw in a diced shallot, a chopped sweet onion and if you like things crazy, another garlic clove. Allow to saute a bit. Once those carrots and garlic are done, throw into the pot. Zest some orange and and ginger over them. Pour in 4 cups of vegetable broth and stir up. Put a mint or rosemary sprig in the soup. Bring soup up to a boil, then simmer till the carrots get super soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Heat up a couple dollops of grapeseed oil in a saute pan. Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas. Saute them up with some cumin, salt and pepper. Add some sesame seeds once they start to crisp. Stir occasionally till they get browned and crunchy. Careful of popping oil. It hurts.

Take out the rosemary/mint spring and add some fresh squeezed orange juice to taste. Blend up the soup with a table top blender or use an emulsion blender. If using a tabletop blender, be careful! Blend in batches and take off the plastic middle part of the lid to let the heat escape a bit which prevent explosions.

Add salt, cracked black pepper and cumin. Taste! Add more spices, orange juice, ginger or chopped rosemary/mint as necessary. Dish out , and top with a generous helping of crispy chickpeas and some freshly chopped parsley.

If  you are like me, eat while watching The Taste and laughing at Team Hot Mess.

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Kedai Makan

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My only waitressing experience was in the summer of 2005, right before starting my senior year of high school in Budapest, Hungary. A friend of my Dad owned an Indonesian restaurant and needed English speaking servers as her customers were usually international. My resourceful father knew he had 2 teenagers at home with “nothing” to do all summer so he volunteered us. Thanks for stealing my summer Dad.

Actually, overall it was a fun experience. Nusantara was small and fancy with 2 hilarious Indonesian chefs who we loved to tease. Our first night, however, my sister Meagan and I were petrified. We were still learning the menu, Indonesian cuisine, waitressing 101 and our chefs’ accents so when a party of 15 decided to stop by at closing time for a 3 hour meal, we exchanged fearful, wide eyed glances. Then we got to work. I don’t remember how successful we were, I just remember practically drooling over every plate I was forced to place in front of someone other than myself. Necessity is probably the best way to learn and I made mental notes of all the dishes I needed to try before the summer was up.

I remember that summer being one of nasi goreng, fried ice cream, caramelized bananas topped with sharp white cheddar and teaching our chefs to play UNO when the bosses were out. Also a summer of limited tips, but that is neither here nor there. (The Malaysian ambassador’s party of 8 tipped exactly 0.00 HUF).

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Since that summer I hadn’t had much Indonesian/Malaysian food at all until our recent move to Seattle. Across the street and down about a block from our apartment is Kedai Makan, which has quickly become a weekly staple. I was so excited to see some familiar dishes on their menu. They are basically a food stand, inside a teeny tiny storefront kitchen. You order and pickup at the window as the spices waft around you, enticing you to keep adding to your order. Their menu is fairly vegetarian friendly and we always get the same few things: 2 orders of crispy and spicy Roti Cani ( you just don’t share this stuff), Tauhu Sumbat, Nasi Goreng  and sometimes roasted peanuts which I sprinkle over the fried rice. The roti has an exceptionally satisfying crisp and is addictive when dipped into its accompanying bowl of dhal curry. The deep, mature spice of the fried rice gets rich and creamy with a runny egg yolk and when combined with the bright, fresh pops of cucumber, sprouts and fresh cilantro it becomes a balanced, savory, moan inducing dinner.

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I love bringing our takeout boxes next door to Montana to get a potently gingerful Moscow Mule during happy hour. Everyone always eyes our food with lustful eyes as we pick out a cozy corner of the dive bar to dig in. That is all I want out of life, for people to be constantly jealous of what I’m eating. Follow Kedai Makan on Twitter and if you are lucky enough to visit me in Seattle, I’ll take you.

 

Parsnip soup topped with crispy sage and lemon butter

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Though we aren’t in a polar vortex or anything, I can still get some comfort from a piping hot bowl of savory soup. In my opinion, winter is the season for soups. Ok, fall is too but a lot of foods are in season then, so soups tend to fall to the wayside. During the grey monotony of winter, it is more difficult for me to get motivated and creative about dishes other than soup. Especially since we are all supposed to be getting smarter, thinner, cooler and all around er-er after January 1st.

What is easy to make vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free!?!

SOUP soup SoUp.

Parsnip is a funny word right? Down home and rustic yet fancy.

I can imagine Mr. Carson deploring Mr. Mosely for serving the 3rd course to Lady Mary with the wrong hand with a hooked nose glare.  “Mr. Mosely, please refrain from hauling the creamed parsnips willy nilly into the dining room. They’ll slosh”.

I’d never cooked with parsnips before and wasn’t even exactly sure how to prepare them, but this soup from Love and Olive Oil just sounded to cozy to pass up on account of ignorance. Luckily Food52 came to my rescue with an ingenious little video showing exactly how to core a parsnip. Slightly labor intensive, but worth it. Just don’t slice yourself like I may have.

I was excited to use my new christmas present, an emulsion blender to create an easy, creamy luxe soup. It worked deliciously if I do say so myself. My husband agreed.

Parsnip soup topped with crispy sage and lemon butter

Top off 3 garlic heads till most cloves are showing and drizzle with olive oil. Place in foil and tightly wrap so none spills out and scorches your oven. That is annoying. Roast garlic for about 35-40 minutes. When they are done, let them cool a bit and push out the soft warm pods. Inhale deeply.

Chop up a large onion and one shallot. Saute in olive oil in your soup pot until just browning. Core and chop up about 6 medium sized parsnips. Add to the pot with sprig or two of fresh rosemary. Pour in about 4 cups ( 1 container) of vegetable stock and allow to simmer for about 45 mins. Test to see if the parsnips are soft.

Add those mouthwatering garlic cloves and if you want  cream, add about 1/2 a cup or so. Use an emulsion blender ( or a countertop one CAREFULLY) to meld everything together. Season to taste with a healthy dose of salt and fresh black pepper, maybe a squeeze of lemon juice.

Heat up a chunk of unsalted butter in a pan until foamy. Add some sage leaves for about 2 minutes until crisp. Place leaves on paper towel. Add one small lemon‘s worth of juice and take away from heat. Mix up lemon butter.

Serve yourself a bowl, top with a couple crispy sage leaves and a drizzle ( or more) of lemon butter. A crusty slice of bread would not be an out of place accompaniment.