Curry Carrot Soup With Toasted Quinoa Topping
Being away from Charleston the last three years, I had almost forgotten how much longer the temperatures stay above normal this time of year. I should know better though given that we are in a sub tropical climate… Nevertheless, I was getting antsy to get a bit of a hint that December was upon us. And just like that, a good rain and the temperatures dropped. The air became crisper, the sun shining with a different luminosity, the sky finally wearing that winter blue I love and missed.
All prompted me to head to the kitchen to make a few batches of soups.
My latest love is for a velvety curry carrot soup I made the other day. Vadouvan, turmeric, sumac were my spices of choices, giving depth to the soup. The humble carrot took another dimension and we all went back for seconds. I wanted a crunchy bit in there somewhere so I topped it off with a blend of toasted quinoa, parsley, toasted almond and lemon zest.
With my studio adjacent to the house, it’s really easy to put a pot of soup on, get to work, and come back in around noon to have lunch with my mother-in-law when the husband is teaching. I’ve come rather fond of our lunch breaks together. Sometimes, we sit quietly at the table and listen to the news. Sometimes, I prompt her to tell for the gazillion time how she met my father-in-law, the story of how they were wed in New Orleans during the war. I love listening to her. We talk about my family, when my parents will come visit next or what we are going to cook for Christmas. Sometimes, we are both deep in our thoughts and appreciate the silence.
Lunch is often time a cup of soup and a tartine or a big salad and a croque monsieur. Mama Ruth had never had those before but now I feel like I have creating a monster! When I head to the kitchen and says "lunch in 20 minutes!", she often replies from wherever she is "are we having those nice cheese and ham sandwiches you made the other day? You know, those French sandwiches with all that good melty cheese?" Well yes, I guess we are…!
Bailey the older of the two pups usually stays in the house by her side and keeps her company (read sleeps soundly while Turner Classic Movies is on). Tiggy, the younger pup comes with me to the studio and finds a warm spot in the sunlight streaming in. She loves to be there with me, keeping watch over the food on set, getting petted by clients or just watching the squirrels passing by. We have all started to find our comfort zone, our rhythm. It’s nice. It’s really nice.
Sure we have our moments. We don’t always all agree on politics or family stuff but heck, which family doesn’t?! Nothing that a good pipping hot cup of soup and a croque monsieur can’t fix!
Curry Carrot Soup
Makes enough for 8
For the soup:
2 teaspoons olive oil
8 cups chopped carrots
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons vadouvan
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sumac
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups vegetable broth or water
In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the carrots, onion and garlic and sautee until they start to brown (about 15 minutes). Add the spices, salt and pepper and sautee another couple of minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. When the soup starts boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer, place a lid askew over the pot and continue cooking for another 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
Remove from the heat, let cook for about 10 minutes before putting the soup in a blender and pureeing until smooth. (I have a Blendtec that I love and makes ultra smooth soups). Check for salt and pepper and adjust according to your taste.
Serve with crusty bread, croque monsieur or by itself.
For the topping:
1/2 cup toasted tricolor quinoa (instructions follow) (regular quinoa works too)
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup toasted almond
zest of one lemon
To toast the quinoa, first place it in a large bowl filled with water. Let it stand for a few minutes. Using a fork, swirl the quinoa a couple of times. Strain the quinoa through a fine mesh sieve and rinse with cold water. Set aside to drain well. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and place the quinoa in it. Start moving the quinoa around with a wooden spoon until it starts to dry out and eventually toast to a nutty smell and color. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool before blending it in with the rest of the topping ingredients.