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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Getting Back To Your Roots

Last winter and fall, I was heavy into root vegetables.  Parsnips and turnips appeared in many of my dishes, from braises to soups and even raw as crudités.  Somehow, the carrot never quite made it onto a menu.  Perhaps, I have always miss-associated carrots with springtime and bunnies.  In doing this, I had missed a wonderful opportunity to use this sweet and beautifully hued vegetable in the seasons where it truly belongs. 

What better way to warm up your spirits and your belly as the weather starts to cool down, than with a bowl of my Roasted Carrot, Ginger and Cashew Soup.  Roasting the carrots, brings out the vegetable's natural sweetness and the warming spice of the ginger and red chili can be adjusted to your personal taste.  The recipe, as written below, is slightly spicy on the back end, and can be cooled down by using less chili pepper or by reducing the amount of ribs and seeds used. The cashews in this recipe provide a nice nutty undertone, but more importantly, serve as a thickening agent.  By using the nuts as a thickener rather than cream, the soup is completely vegan.

This recipe will serve 8-10 as appetizer portions or 4-6 as a main course.  Leftovers freeze beautifully and can be reheated for a quick meal on a busy weeknight.

I was very pleased with the outcome of this soup and have been enjoying it for lunch all week.  The flavor only intensifies over time, thus making it a great make-ahead dish as well.  I hope you will enjoy this soup as much as I do and remember to make every plate (or bowl), something to be passionate about.

Beautiful Raw Ingredients

Roasted Carrot, Ginger-Cashew Soup:


2 1/2 lbs. carrots, cut into one inch pieces
Non-stick cooking spray
1 teaspoon each sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 cup roasted cashews
2 red chilies, stems removed. Ribs and seeds removed from one pepper only
4 cloves garlic
2 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled
1 cup yellow onion, small dice
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 quarts vegetable broth
Optional Garnishes:
Chives, Greek Yogurt, Cilantro Leaves, Roasted Carrot "chips"

Step One:
Preheat Oven to 425 degrees.  Place carrots on a foil-lined baking sheet and coat liberally with non-stick spray and salt and pepper.  Bake for 25-30 minutes in preheated oven until carrots are caramelized and softened.

Roasted Carrots

Step Two:
While carrots are roasting, add cashews to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, but not turned into a butter.  Remove from bowl and set aside.  Next pulse garlic, ginger and chilies in food processor until combined and finely minced.  Remove from bowl and set aside.

Minced Onion- Processed Ginger, Chilies and Garlic-Processed Cashews 

Make sure cashews are finely processed, but still powdery
Step Three:
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add the onion and spices and sauté till onion has softened, about three minutes.  Add the ginger mixture and continue to cook, stirring frequently for another 2-3 minutes.  Next, add cashews and stir to incorporate.

Veggies, Spices and Nuts getting friendly in the Dutch Oven
Step Four:
Add roasted carrots and vegetable stock to pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, then simmer for thirty minutes.

Ready for the vegetable stock
Step Five:
Turn off heat and carefully use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Now you are ready to garnish and serve.

Be patient and work the soup to a smooth consistency

Garnished, plated and ready for a close up!

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