When I was a little girl, happily engrossed in a snack, chomping on a fistful of carrot sticks, grownups (especially grandparents) used to chuckle and nod in appreciation.
They were tickled pink that I loved those orange roots so much.
“Just like Bugs Bunny, Lynnie, you love them carrots.”
They’d chuckle among themselves, scratch their chins in that thoughtful, elderly way and proclaim, “Carrots, little Lynnie, are not only good for ya, but they’ll put a curl in your hair.”
Curls and carrots were a good thing. Still are. I’ve got a head full of curly strands and in my garden grows some of the least straight, most angled and wayward, thwarted and stopped-up roots ever grown in these parts.
But that hasn’t stopped my love affair with this root.
They were the first veg I fed my babies. I’d peel dozens of those orange wands, chop them into coins and toss them into a steamer basket. Once tender to the fork, I’d whirl them in my trusty food processor, adding just enough of the cooking liquid to create a fresh, real carrot puree bound for the mouths of my babes.
I remember the bright orange stains on their bibs and the way they’d open their tiny mouths like hungry baby birds. Absolute delight welled up in this maternal heart as I fed such pure, nourishing orangeness on a little, plastic-coated baby spoon to my happy little charges.
Carrot soup is not that far a leap from baby food.
It’s a pure puree meant for adult tastes including complex flavours that hop around the carrots, not unlike Bugs, but with more flavour than a cartoon can ever conjure. Ginger, a fellow root, pairs so sublimely with carrots, cutting a little of the sweetness and giving it a sideways spike. Turmeric, that currently trendy Asian rhizome that is popping up in lattes and milky teas, deepens a carrot’s orange into a golden crimson, while leaving yellowed tattoos on your fingers when freshly grated.
But the real kicker is in the stock — the foundational rock of any soup. My cheat for any soup that stars vegetables-only is a super-slow-cooked chicken stock. It adds a magical velvet to the soup’s texture while leaving a sparkling, golden sheen on the surface.
I know vegetarians and vegans will simply bypass that remark and enjoy this soup just as much, if not more, without the poultry. I won’t even wonder what Looney Tunes could chime in with — but I bet it would make this elder chuckle.
Ginger Turmeric Carrot Soup
If your freezer isn’t full of homemade stock, bouillon cubes will suffice. Taste the results before adding salt to the soup as most cubes are sky-high in sodium.
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2-inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled and finely grated/ 1 tsp turmeric powder
5 cups (10-12 medium) carrots, chopped
6 cups defatted, homemade chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk
4 kaffir lime leaves (or 2 bay leaves)
1 ½ tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg
Fresh lime wedges
Freshly chopped coriander and/or mint
Heat coconut oil in a large pot on medium high. Add onion, ginger and turmeric cooking 3-5 min or until soft and fragrant. Add carrots, stock, coconut milk, lime or bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cooking 15-20 min or until the carrots are tender soft. Remove the lime or bay leaves and purée the hot soup with a hand-held immersion blender. Taste before seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with freshly ground nutmeg, lime juice, a dollop of yogurt or freshly chopped coriander and mint leaves.