In honor of this holiday, I would like to tell you the scary tale of my first time cooking with fresh ginger.
Having prepped the onions and garlic for my carrot-ginger soup, it was time to be brave and face the spooky-looking root sitting on my cutting board.
Recalling the research I did in Joy of Cooking, I started peeling the root with a vegetable peeler.
It was all going really well, until...
Yes, that is a blue ring in the middle of the ginger.
Listen, when you are facing a new ingredient for the first time and you see a scary blue ring in it, it is okay to panic. In fact, if you think it is moldy, throw it in the trash bowl, run to the frig, grab a new piece of ginger, cut into it, only to be horrified at finding the same blue ring everywhere you look,
So, there I was, aghast, thinking that carrot-ginger soup was doomed. But, before losing all hope, I ran to my computer and googled "blue ring ginger." Guess what?! There is a type of ginger called "Blue-Ring Ginger" (also called "Chinese white ginger"). Which means... it was supposed to be blue! Better yet, blue-ring ginger is apparently more juicy and tasty than other varieties. My bravery was rewarded: the soup was saved!
I retrieved the ginger from the trash bowl, finished peeling it, and minced it up.
And then I continued on my merry soup-making way.
So ends the story of how I made the acquaintance of fresh ginger.
Now, for this gorgeous carrot-ginger soup. The balance from the heat of the ginger, the sweet of the carrot, and the tang from the orange is outstanding. The ginger, especially, gives everything a warmth and depth that is gorgeous.
After you have prepped the onions, ginger (phew!), and garlic, start by sauteing the onions and ginger.
In the meantime, prep your carrots. Peel them,
and slice them.
(should you have any aggression, slicing up carrots is a great way to get it out).
Right before the onions and ginger are done, throw in the garlic so it doesn't burn.
Now, add those carrots to the pot.
And give it a good pinch of salt and pepper. I find it is really important to season every layer of a soup, so it doesn't come out bland in the end. Start with the onion stage, and continue seasoning each layer.
Cover the carrots with stock.
Bring that to a boil, and let it simmer for 30 minutes until the carrots are tender.
Break out your immersion blender, and blend it all up.
How Halloween is this orange?
Next, add in your orange juice,
and (if you want) your milk or cream. Both the orange juice and the milk help thin the soup out and give it a silky texture.
Let that cook for 5 minutes, and then add in (one of my favorites) freshly grated nutmeg.
Taste for seasoning and you are done!
For the garnish, I thought to myself, now I know carrots love raisins and carrots love cashews, so why not make a raisin-cashew pumpkin for a Halloween garnish?
Beside looking perfect for Halloween, the flavors from the raisins and cashews were brilliant with the carrot, orange, and ginger. Halloween or not, the raisin-cashew garnish is a great way to go.
Once again, Happy Halloween!
Gingered Carrot Soup (adapted from epicurious.com)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter*
1/2 cup minced onion (1/2 a medium onion)
1/4 cup minced peeled fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced**
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock (feel free to use vegetable stock)
4 cups sliced, peeled carrots (about 1 1/2 pounds)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup orange juice *** (more to taste)
1/2 cup half and half or milk **** (I used 1% organic milk)
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg *****
Raisins and cashews for garnish
Heat oil and butter in a dutch-oven over medium heat. Add onion and ginger. Saute until onion is translucent, about 7 minutes. Add in garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add sliced carrots, salt and pepper, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to lower, cover, and simmer until carrots are tender, about 30 minutes.
Remove soup from heat and blend with an immersion blender (or blend in batches in a blender or food processor). Mix in orange juice and milk. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Mix in nutmeg. Season soup to taste.
Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with raisins and cashews.
Can be prepared 1 day ahead.
*The original recipe calls for 2 T of vegetable oil
**The original recipe does not call for garlic. How could you leave it out?
*** The original recipe calls for 1 cup of orange juice. That is way too much. I used a 1/2 cup and thought it was a tad too sweet. Next time, I am going to start with 1/4 cup orange juice and add more to taste. Alternatively, you could just add the juice from an orange and that would avoid the sweetness problem.
****You don't have to use milk or half and half, I just thought it would give everything a nice texture.
*****The original recipe calls for 1/4 ground cinnamon. I am simply in love with nutmeg these days, so I changed it up. Feel free to do whatever you like