Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Carrot and Coriander Soup

Ahhhhhh!  That was the sound of panic when the doorbell rang this morning at 7.15.  Not because I was still in bed and there was someone at the door, but because the person at the door was our lovely veg box man.  Don't mis-understand me - there was nothing actually wrong with the veg box, nor the hour of its arrival (although a more fashionably late hour would suit me better)

No, the cause of my outburst was that there was meant to be parsnips in the box this week, which were going to form the basis for this weeks soup, Curried Parsnip.  Only, now bereft of parsnip, what is a boy to do?  Well, what is that I spied in the veg box, nestled under some cabbage and next to the potatoes?  Carrots?  Still covered in mud you say?  Well that gives me an idea...

I told you all a while ago about the first ever soup I made, minestrone as part of a home economics class when I was 12? Well today I'm going to tell you about the first soup I ever cooked to impress a girl...  Carrot and coriander soup.  This soup seems to be a bit of a student classic, probably because it's cheap and easy to make, healthy and quick, and there are hundreds of ways to do it.

Some people add lentils, some tomatoes, cream, sour cream, coconut milk.  It is, in a nutshell, what is brilliant about soup - it's tasty and it's very hard to mess it up.  So I thought it would be perfect for impressing a girl that I invited to come round for a meal.  It was the first time I'd ever cooked to impress, so needless to say, I was worried.

The soup simmered away, with vegetable stock as she was a vegetarian, not too much chili as she didn't like her food too spicy. The ginger and lemon a sharp counterpoint to the earthy carrots sweet tomatoes and spices.  It was perfect...

She turned up, the lights were low, the music was soft, the chat was small, and then I dished up the soup and... she loved it, was very impressed - in fact, it was the best carrot and coriander soup she'd ever tasted - even better than her friend who worked in a vegan cafe made (which was previously the pinnacle of soupy perfection for her)

I could hardly believe my luck.  Maybe there was something in this cooking malarkey after all.  And then I served the main dish - tandoori salmon, choked on a fish bone and spent the next three hours retching and coughing like a cat coughing up a hair-ball...  The girl left rather quickly after that...

500g Carrots
10 Medium Tomatoes
3 Cloves of Garlic
1 Lemon (Juice Only)
750ml Chicken Stock
1 Tin Coconut Milk
1tsp Grated Ginger
1tbsp Coriander Seeds
1tsp Cumin Seeds
1tsp Chili Flakes Oregano

Balsamic Vinegar
Bunch of fresh Coriander
Olive Oil
Salt and Black Pepper

1.  Heat the oven to 200ºc.  Cut the tomatoes in half and de-seed.  Put them in an oven dish and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle on a pinch of dried oregano and a splash of balsamic vinegar, then a pinch of salt and pepper.  Put the dish in the oven and roast the tomatoes for 35-40 minutes, until they have started to brown.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

2.  In a dry frying pan, heat the coriander and cumin seeds over a moderate heat for 2 minutes, until the seeds start to pop.  Transfer them to a mortar and grind.

3.  Slice the onion and fry gently in a little oil.  Add the  garlic and ginger and fry for another 2 minutes, then add the ground cumin and coriander seeds, as well as the chili flakes and stir until everything is coated in the spices

4.  Add the tomatoes, stock and peeled sliced carrots.  Bring the soup to the boil and then cover, simmering and cooking for 30 minutes, until the carrots are cooked through

5.  Blend the soup until it's smooth and then return to the pan.  Gently heat through.

6.  Stir in the coconut milk, chopped fresh coriander and the juice of a lemon.

7.  Garnish with a few coriander leaves.  Serve and enjoy!

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