As if one needed any further proof that a woman can truly change a man, over here in this household I’ve got one husband who is not only eating vegetarian this and vegan that because it’s what is put in front of him, but because he actually enjoys it.
And this is the same husband that just a couple of short years ago was still a boyfriend, and one that I had to beg and plead to try a fantastic vegetarian joint I stumbled upon on Eighth Avenue, one that I’d attempt to pull the wool over his eyes and direct straight into the West Village outpost of a popular falafel ball restaurant, and one that gave me nothing but the dreaded wrinkled-up-nose-of-displeasure when I’d get caught secretly trying unload a block of tofu from my tote bag.
Back then, in our house (err…apartment), a meal simply wasn’t a meal unless it had some type of animal protein, and a sandwich that contained anything along the lines of tempeh, tofu, or any other manner of that vegetarian mambo-jambo nonsense was for the birds.
(Specifically the hordes of bedraggled pigeons that just love to congregate on every street corner in New York. Blech.)
But then slowly, and without much warning, the tide shifted. Suddenly, when faced with a tofu club at our corner cafe, that unmistakeable scrunched up face of distaste was replaced only with happy noises and a mouth too full to protest. Meatless pitas filled instead with crunchy falafal and pickled vegetables constituted a real meal, and I was getting away with doing things like pan frying tofu, making beans into burgers, and calling big bowls of lentils and kale a perfectly acceptable (and undeniably delicious!) supper.
I won’t take total credit for that shift however; I was not, and still am not, anywhere close to being a vegetarian, and our move to Boulder (which is brimming with a community that caters to every dietary need, want, and desire possible) has only solidified and strengthened our transitions to meatless tendencies. It’s probably fairly obvious that the fastest way to convince anyone that you can forgo meat on occasion (or in our case, at least a few times a week), is not to plop a boring plate of ‘rabbit food’ in front of them and call it a night — there needs to be some spice and some excitement in that equation, lest you fancy watching your family throw a full on revolt at suppertime.
This carrot and ginger soup is really good. It’s vegetarian (which by now of course you’ve certainly ascertained), it’s vegan (a bonus), and though it’s not exactly the heartiest vegetarian dish I’ve posted on, this creamy soup is lovely in it’s simplicity and strangely addictive.
I’ve always been a fan of light-but-creamy soups, and this one is bright enough that it’s perfect year round. With a base of carrot, onion, garlic, ginger, and veggie stock that is then thickened up after cooking with a hearty dose of coconut milk, the soup stays all at once comforting (with the creamy milk and savory carrots) yet vivid (with the gentle bite and heat of the ginger and garlic). A thorough puree renders the once chunky soup mixture silken and smooth, and the addition of a cool dollop of plain yogurt and a few green sprigs of cilantro adds not only a break from the ginger’s heat, but also a happy spot of green in an otherwise just-orange soup.
The ginger here is very forward facing, and though it seems counterintuitive, the warmth actually feels wonderful when eaten on a hot summer’s day. Where just a few years back, I’m quite sure this soup wouldn’t have elicited much more than an eyebrow raise, I’m happy to report that today it’s eliciting seconds.
And thirds and fourths – if I’m so lucky.
Carrot and Ginger Soup with Yogurt and Cilantro
The coconut milk in this simple soup helps to give a nice creamy body and richness, while still keeping it from feeling heavy or overly rich. I like to use light coconut milk here, but either type will do.
A two inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and grated will make a soup where the ginger gives a nice noticeable spice and gingery flavor; feel free to increase the amount of ginger to a three or three and a half inch piece to get an extreme ginger flavor, but keep in mind that this amount will make it quite spicy.
Start by seasoning the soup very lightly, with the 1 tsp salt called for below; since it is highly flavored by the ginger and garlic, you may find that you don’t want to add any additional salt. I waited until I pureed the soup to adjust salt levels, and only added another pinch or so to the soup.
This does make a large batch of soup, making enough for 6-8 people. I like to always make a big batch of soup (no matter how many people I am serving) and then freeze half right off the bat; that way, you have enough for lunch for the better part of a week, and can enjoy some later, on a night you don’t feel like cooking.
2 lbs carrots, sliced into 1/2″ rounds (about 10-12 large carrots)
1 two inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated (see note above)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large white onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1 14 oz can light coconut milk (alt. you can use full fat)
1 tsp salt + additional to taste
olive oil, as needed (about 2 Tbsp)
plain Green yogurt (I like 2% Chobani)
fresh cilantro leaves
tools: a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven with a lid; a blender (or immersion blender)
In a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pot over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add in the chopped onion, sliced carrots, and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the onion just starts to become translucent on the edges and the carrots have lost their raw edge and bite (they are just starting to become a bit tender). Stir in the grated ginger and the chopped garlic, and cook, stirring very frequently, for another two minutes or so, until the garlic and ginger are fragrant and well combined with the vegetables.
Stir in the vegetable broth, and cover the pot with a lid. Simmer the soup over medium/low heat for 25 – 30 minutes, until the carrots are tender. (Try a carrot – you don’t want it to be mushy and falling apart, but you want it to be totally tender to your bite.)
Take the soup off of the heat, and gently stir in the can of coconut milk. Working in batches, or using a handheld immersion blender, puree the soup until it is creamy and smooth and no rough bits or chunks remain. (You want a nice silky texture, so be sure to puree the soup thoroughly.)
When the soup has all been pureed, add it back to the pot, and taste, and adjust for seasoning. (I added a small pinch of salt here.) Serve the soup with a dollop of the plain yogurt in the middle, and with a few leaves of fresh cilantro scattered over the top.
The soup keeps well in the fridge for about a week, and also freezes really well.