Tag carrots

Roasted Carrot Soup

This roasted carrot soup won Food52‘s contest for Your Best Carrot Recipe, beating out 217 other entrants. It bested the predictable salads, slaws, and carrot cakes; not to mention some more surprising recipes such as Candied Carrot Balls and Carrot Cake Ice Cream. Perhaps more significantly, it topped more than twenty other carrot soups. It’s that tasty.

Roasting the carrots intensifies their flavor (not to mention their sweetness) and the ginger and thyme, which steep in the broth before it is added to the carrots, bring a subtle complexity to the bowl. This is not a carrot ginger soup. It is a carrot soup with a slight kick.

It is also ridiculously simple. The recipe calls for just seven ingredients: carrots, olive oil, vegetable stock, a sprig of thyme, ginger, onion, and garlic.

It isn’t a meal in a bowl, by any means. I served it with naan and some leftover pizza. The next time I make it, I’ll round out the meal in a less haphazard fashion, and when I do, we’ll hear the The Professor’s grade.

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s Ultimate Winter Couscous

Yotam Ottolenghi, introducing his recipe for “The ultimate winter couscous” in Plenty, wrote that when he first published the recipe in his Guardian column, a reader complained about the long list of ingredients. And indeed, the list is long: from apricots to vegetable stock, the recipe calls for 23 ingredients.

A tagged and soon to be splattered page from my copy of Plenty

So lets start with a confession: I left out the half cup of dried apricots, and the preserved lemon too. (For reasons too boring to explain, I’d had to come up with a new dinner plan that afternoon and didn’t have time to buy the two missing ingredients.)

Did it matter? Not too much: The Professor liked the dish, giving it a B+/A-. Although when he heard about the missing apricot, he was curious, so I will include it next time. And based on The Professors comments, I think it could improve the dish on each of the three grading dimensions.

For taste, he gave it an A- and said that it was “good, but a little bit one-dimensional.” For both satisfaction and interestingness, he gave it a B+, and suggested adding a side of sauteed greens to make the meal more satisfying.

While I’m glad that he didn’t suggest a side of sausage, I wonder if the sweetness of the dried apricot might have deepened the flavor of the dish, satisfied the corner of our brain that loves sweet things, and made the dish more interesting.

A second confession: I’ve made the dish twice, and both times, i replaced the couscous with a small round pasta that is often called Israeli couscous. The second time, I didn’t have enough Israeli couscous so I added some quinoa.The Professor isn’t exactly a fan of health grains, so I didn’t tell him before the fact. But after the eating was done and I’d come clean, he said that the quinoa added to both the taste and texture of the dish.

Confessions done, next time I make Ottolenghi’s ultimate winter couscous, I’ll include the dried apricot. And maybe even the preserved lemon.

Martha Rose Shulman’s Spicy Tunisian Carrot Frittata

I’ve thought about making Martha Rose Shulman’s spicy Tunisian carrot frittata at least a dozen times. Whenever I paged through her book, The Very Best Recipes for Health, the frittata’s brilliant color smiled at me and its spices winked.

Martha Rose Shulman's Spicy Carrot Tunisian Frittata

But I could predict The Professor’s enthusiasm — or lack thereof. “Another time,” I’d tell myself. Well that time finally came — last weekend, when friends¬† were coming over for brunch.

After I’d pureed a pound of carrots and mixed them with the eggs, and made some harissa (using a recipe I found online and making a few substitutions for ingredients that I didn’t have), I began to worry. Home-made harissa? Carrot frittata? Why was I serving my friends such an experiment? My mother would never be so foolish. Damnit.

Batter for the spicy tunisian carrot frittata

But there was no turning back. And I’m glad that I didn’t, as my guests asked for seconds — and The Professor gave the dish a “B+ verging on A-.”

This is not your average frittata — a wedge of eggyness studded with vegetables, cheese, whateveryourpleasure. The spices give the dish some surprising zing (surprising for a frittata, at least). The heat of the harissa nicely balances the sweetness of the carrots, and the flavors suffuse the dish.

“On taste, this is nice,” said The Professor. “The flavor is good, and it’s certainly interesting.”

The frittata’s only weakness: satisfaction. I’d served it with a salad and a baguette, and split the 10-inch pie four ways.¬† “It’s OK for brunch,” he said. “But for dinner I’d want something more — even if it’s just some good bruschetta.”

So I’ll be thinking about something else to serve with the frittata that would push it over the fence into A territory.

Super Carrot Soup

Last night I served carrot soup, based on a recipe from Power Foods, a book I’ve written about before. (I used vegetable stock rather than chicken stock and 2% milk rather than half-and-half. I also forgot the last-minute sprinkle of cayenne!)

In my experience, many soups that focus on a single vegetable — pea, asparagus, mushroom, etc — can involve pounds of the main ingredient and hours of work yet not deliver even minutes of rich flavor. The result might be too watery, too subtle, or too boring. In short, such soups can be disappointing.

As a soup, this recipe did not disappoint — or didn’t disappoint The Cook, at least. The soup wasn’t too watery, and I thought its vibrant orange color was matched by a concentrated flavor that I attributed to the two cups of carrot juice the recipe calls for.

For his part, The Professor deemed it “not as subtle as your butternut squash soup.” (A soup, I noted, that involves more ingredients and prep time.) “But I thought it smelled more flavorful than it tasted,” he added.

In any case, I had to admit that the soup — yummy as it was — felt more like an appetizer than a main course. To round out the meal, I had served it with a salad and what I called parmesan flat bread (an Iggy’s pizza shell, brushed with olive oil; sprinkled with cheese, salt, and pepper; and heated on the griddle).

“It’s definitely a light meal,” said The Professor. “But you don’t want a heavy meal every night.”

I didn’t ask for a grade this time, but I will try it again on some evening when a light meal would be welcome. And next time I won’t forget the garnish of cayenne, which might just heat the soup into the A range.