Adinah's over for dinner, and I'm prolonging my soup phase. This one came as a total surprise....
Carrot and Ginger Soup (p. 69)
This recipe may be one of the most basic ones in the book, and one of the "healthiest." There are very few ingredients, very little work to do, and very low calories.
With just butter, onion, garlic, ginger, carrots, salt, pepper, and water, this is an inexpensive and dazzling soup to pull out for most any occasion, from casual to formal.
I have to confess, I didn't see it coming. As I was julienning the ginger, I thought, "Is there enough of it in here to even make a difference?" (Answer: yes!) When I was adding only water, I thought, "Will this soup have any flavor, even though there's no stock in it? (Answer: yes!)
When I tasted the soup and the carrots separately before pureeing, I was pretty sure this was going to be a loser. There was no flavor to be found!
I reread the instructions for finishing these pureed soups and I realized that I've been skipping an important step: reserving a cup of liquid for thinning the soup later. I'd been using the whole pot of liquid each time. But tonight, I reserved, and I ended up barely using any of the reserved liquid. I loved the consistency without it.
Once the soup was blended, it completely transformed. First off, the color is unbelievable. (Perfect for October, by the way. Doesn't it look great in my white bowls?) And then the taste just knocks your socks off. The ginger packs a huge punch, and the hint of onion and garlic is an amazing backdrop for the silky, almost-sweetness of the carrots themselves. So simple, but so satisfying! And all this from some water and a bunch of veggies!
I garnished with watercress, just like Martha suggested, which was lovely.
Adinah, who later confessed that she has always disliked carrot ginger soup, was completely won over. That's how good it is!
Pear Chutney (p. 179)
I thought Pear Chutney would be a nice accompaniment to the Moroccan-Spiced Chicken I had planned. (If you haven't tried this quick and easy chicken recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine, you must make it immediately! It's flawless!) I love a sweet, fruity accompaniment to a savory protein dish.
This works great! The flavors really come together nicely, so nicely, in fact, that I don't even mind that there's jalapeño pepper in there. (Pepper-hater that I am.)
The only thing I want to mention is: I used not-very-ripe pears, and instead of it taking 30-35 minutes to get a loose jamlike consistency, it took closer to 90 minutes. Those pears just would not break down.
Eventually they did, and the flavor is terrific, but I'm guessing that this will cook faster and taste even better when using ripe or even super-ripe pears.
Of all the chutneys, I think this is my favorite. The fig one is so port-y. And the tomato-peach one, while delicious, seems a little less versatile. I can imagine this pear chutney complementing any number of dishes.
Until we eat again....