Autumn arrived yesterday afternoon in the most beautiful fashion — brilliant blue skies, bright sunshine, and crisp, cool air. After a short deluge of rain Saturday morning, the weekend opened up into perfection, the kind of weather that makes folks fall in love with September.
For me, the cool weather has an added bonus … the return, in earnest, of soup. Hot soup.
And this early autumn timing means that soups are made with vegetables pulled fresh from my garden. I’m even growing ginger this year, although it won’t be ready to harvest for a few more weeks. I’m so excited! Ginger, growing in a big pot on my Midwestern deck. Whodda thunk?
My carrot garden did spectacularly well this year. I had my act together enough to put up netting while the greens were still young and lush — deer and bunnies love carrot greens — and with consistent watering to keep the soil pliable for tender roots pushing downward through the ground, it’s been an amazing crop — rough count: 200 carrots from a 2′ x 5′ bed. (Sweet Treat and Purple Dragon varieties shown above.)
Plenty for lots of autumn carrot ginger soup
The frilly fronds, which are both beautiful and nutritious, will last a long time in a tall glass of water, like basil stems. Snap off the carrot from its leaves, then trim the leaf stems so they stand upright in the glass. Fill with cool tap water. Replenish and change the water frequently.
Carrot roots need moisture, and plenty of it. Unprotected, carrots will go limp and rubbery overnight, even in the fridge. Dampen a paper towel, and line a zip bag or container. Place the carrots inside, and lay another damp paper towel on top. Seal the bag or container. If you’re storing for weeks rather than days, replace the paper towels with new, damp ones every few days. Alternately, fill a resealable container with cool, clean water, and lay the carrots right in the bath. Store in the fridge, changing the water frequently. (This works with celery, too.)
Another age-old method is to store carrots in a box or bucket of sand. The sand serves as a barrier between the carrot and air, sealing in moisture around the carrot. Back when homes were built with root cellars, gardeners would stash their carrot loot in large containers of sand down in the cool confines of the cellar.
But even the best of us get lazy or absent-minded and put a bare carrot in the fridge … only to rediscover it in quite a sad state later. Before tossing it in your compost pile, try reviving it in an ice water bath in the fridge (using either a zip bag or a container with a lid). It really works!
For a long time, I was a slow convert to carrot soup, unsure how the sweet, astringent crunchiness would translate to liquid form. I regret waiting so long. If you love butternut squash, you’ll love carrot ginger soup. Smooth, creamy, and subtly carroty, it’s become my fall favorite. I hope you’ll try it!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup onion diced (about one small onion)
- 1/2 cup celery diced
- 2 tablespoons ginger minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds carrots measured without greens, roughly chopped
- 4 cups stock chicken or vegetable
- 1/3 cup coconut milk
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- sour cream or creme fraiche for garnish
- chopped cilantro for garnish
Heat the oil in a 4 to 5 quart dutch oven over medium heat, until shimmering. Add the onions, celery and a pinch of salt, and sweat until soft, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the ginger, garlic, carrots, and another pinch of salt to the pot and mix well with the onions and celery. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the carrots start to take on golden edges.
Pour in the stock, and increase heat to medium-high to bring to a light boil. Reduce heat back to medium, and cover partially with a lid. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and smash readily against the side of the pot with a fork. Remove the pot from the heat.
Use an immersion blender to create a smooth puree (or, use a regular blender, working in batches). Taste, and add salt and pepper as desired.
Stir in the coconut milk. Ladle into bowls and top each with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche and a sprinkling of cilantro.