<b>FOOD FINDS | </b>By Mina Williams Herald writer
Available year-round, carrots are often a forgotten vegetable beyond the raw sticks on a vegetable tray.
They do have a crisp texture and also bring a natural sweetness to the table that is intensified when roasted or simmered.
As one of the more thrifty vegetables on the produce stand, this flexible root is perfect in soups and sauces.
“My favorite carrot recipe is an easy, healthy winter carrot soup,” says Amy Pennington, a Seattle cookbook author. “It is so simple, I almost felt ridiculous including it in my book, but people love it.”
This recipe balances both vegetable and fat for a healthy and satisfying meal. Kitchen time is 45 minutes, including dishwashing. It also has the benefit of having potential vegan/vegetarian status.
As a penny saver, Pennington suggests using bulk carrots, or carrots left too long in the refrigerator.
“The final soup is forgiving and will mask any woodiness or limpness the carrots may have taken on,” she says.
It’s also a flexible dish. “Make a bigger batch for leftovers. Those can be frozen in an airtight container and kept for four months. I often eat any leftovers cold.”
Leftovers also may be used as a “sauce” base with sautéed scallops or fish. Simply cook down and reduce the soup until thick and serve under fish that has been simply seared or grilled, she says.
Pennington is also the host of KCTS’ new “Check, Please!” premiering at 7 p.m. March 8.
Carrot-Coconut Milk Soup
Makes 2 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium shallot (about 1/2 cup), sliced thin
2 hearty pinches of salt
4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
One can (13.5-ounces) of coconut milk
1 cup water or vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper
1. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
2. When heated, add the shallot and one pinch of the salt, stirring until soft but not brown, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the carrots and stir occasionally, letting them sit still and brown a bit (the shallot will start caramelizing, as well), about 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Pour in the coconut milk and water (or stock) and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the mixture until the carrots are soft and cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Carefully add the soup, in batches, to a blender. Remember to leave room in the blender as liquids expand when heated. Purée until smooth, adding a bit of water if you’d like a thinner consistency.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a spoonful of yogurt, if desired, and serve immediately.
Pantry Note: Add new flavor components to this soup by trying out different spices. A few shakes of curry, some fennel and nutmeg, or a little cinnamon and fresh ginger work very well.
Excerpted from “Urban Pantry: Tips &Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable &Seasonal Kitchen” by Amy Pennington (Skipstone, 2010).