spicy carrot soup

Friday, November 18, 2011

Last night for dinner DP and I were slurping this soup while the following conversation unfolded:

Me: "I don't know how the hell I'm gonna photograph this tomorrow. Soup's hard."

DP: [sucking air through closed teeth] "Yeah...[slow wicked chuckle].....good luck with that."

Me: "Thanks for nothing."

DP: "Well? It's probably just gonna look like an orange puddle."

Me: [showing him my soup with the greek yogurt mixed in] "How does this look?" 

DP: "Gross. There's like yogurty white spots throughout. I think you need to do some kind of fancy spiral deal like in restaurants."

Me: "You mean restaurants in the 80s? Hey, the 80s just called--they want their swirly soup garnish back."

DP: "Easy."

Me: "Well, that's what they say on Top Chef!"

DP: "How about a clean dollop?"

Me: "I tried that this afternoon and it just sank. My dollop was more like a blob than a dollop."

DP: "Hmm."

[long beat]

DP: "Will you hand me the remote?"

After that underwhelming interaction I turned to Google, Knower Of All Things. 

[Side note: I spent a full 90 seconds today in utter awe consciously grasping the fact that pretty much everything we want to know about anything is available to us at any hour in only a few seconds. And we kinda take it for granted. Crazy, right? What did we do before this?!] 

10 seconds and 2 clicks later I was reading a guy's blog on food photography. Specifically, how to light and photograph different types of soup--broth-y, creamy, chunky, smooth. It was there that I found this delicious quote:

"Soup that doesn't have much in the way of protrusions, is tough to make interesting."  (I left the uncomfortable and unnecessary comma in there just like he had it.)

Personally, I don't want anything protruding out of my soup. Ever. 

But that's, just me.*

*see what I did there? 

Since this soup is fresh out of protrusions, here's how I made its photo interesting:  I made sure I appeared upside-down in the spoon, yo!

It's not as exciting as a protrusion, but it'll do.

Spicy Carrot Soup
adapted from Epicurious

1/2 stick butter
2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into approx. 1/2" dice
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1T toasted spice rub, recipe follows
juice from 1/2 lemon
2T honey (eyeball it)
1/2 cup greek yogurt for serving
salt to taste

Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until soft, about 7 minutes.  Add the carrots and saute another 5 minutes. Stir in the spice rub, allow it to warm through and then add the stock and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until the carrots are soft. Remove from heat. Carefully blend with an immersion blender thoroughly or transfer to a real blender and puree [we just got this one and it is amazing for soups!]. Stir in the lemon juice and honey and taste before adding additional salt. Serve with a dollop of greek yogurt on top.

Toasted Spice Rub
recipe from Michael Chiarello

I know what you're thinking: Crap, I have to make my own SPICE RUB!? I'm telling you, though--it is so easy and SO worth it. This stuff is like autumnal crack. Seriously. It is SO good in soups and on roasted meat or vegetables. Sometimes I just halve the recipe because it makes a lot. Here's the recipe-in-full:

1/4 cup fennel seeds
1T coriander seeds
1T peppercorns
1 1/2 t red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chili powder
2T kosher salt
2T ground cinnamon

Toast the fennel seeds, coriander and peppercorns in a saute pan over medium heat. When the fennel turns light brown, work quickly. Turn on the exhaust fan, add the red pepper flakes and toss constantly, under the fan, for 30 seconds. Immediately turn the spices out onto a plate to cool. Blend in a spice grinder (or use a mortar and pestle) until evenly ground and then mix with the chili powder, salt and cinnamon.

If this sounds too ambitious, you can buy it here.

P.S. Here's another use for this spice mix! YUM! Totally making those today.

Happy Friday!

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