Carrot and Tomato Soup

Sometimes I have an idea of a recipe and must adjust partway through. This was one of those. I thought I’d make this soup with a strong hit of fresh ginger, but it turned out we’d just finished up the ginger on the tofu and green beans we made tonight. Instead, I started the soup with chopped garlic and powdered ginger, which contributes a less aggressive, darker note than fresh ginger’s brash brightness.

I made this because there were tomatoes that needed to be used; a container of cream in the fridge is such a boon when there are random vegetables to be productively dispensed with. All you need are cooked vegetables seasoned with one or two distinctive seasonings, then buzzed through the blender, back into the pan, cream in, and maybe a fresh herb or some juice stirred in if you have it.

Frozen vegetables, also, can be quickly turned into something wonderful with a good dollop of cream. A bag of frozen peas, a sautéed onion, cream, salt to taste and a generous grinding of pepper at the end make something that will surely bring up memories of spring. A little chopped spinach or briefly heated lettuce added to that adds to the vernal mood.

For tonight, this didn’t go exactly as planned, since I didn’t have the ginger I was thinking I’d use, but it came out nicely anyway; bright carnival orange with a mild citrus flavor, and background notes of ginger and garlic.

1/2 T. butter
1/2 T. canola oil
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 t. powdered ginger
1 large tomato, roughly chopped
1 c. grape tomatoes
7 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
salt to taste
1 c. water
1/2 c. cream
1/4 t. paprika
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. orange juice

Heat the butter and oil together in a large saucepan. (I use part oil to allow for sautéing, and to cut the saturated fat a little bit because cream will be added later.) When hot, add the garlic and sauté briefly, until fragrant but not browned. Add the ginger and stir briefly until incorporated into the fat, then add the carrots and tomatoes. Crush the grape tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the pan. (Be careful, they squirt like crazy.) Add salt to taste (you’ll need less if you add it at this point). Cover the pan, reduce the heat to just below medium, and cook until the carrots are tender. Remove from the heat.

Place the contents of the pan into the blender or food processor, and cover. Puree, adding up to 1 c. of liquid as necessary to process. Return the puree to the pan and add the cream and paprika, and stir to combine. Add the lemon and orange juices, and stir again to combine. Check seasoning and reheat as necessary, without allowing to boil.

Cream soups benefit from decoration: dust with paprika or minced herbs or drizzle with additional cream before serving.

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