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Food Network Favorites: Chino Carrot & Ginger Soup

From Wolfgang Puck, here's a soup that might taste amazing if you can get your hands on the special carrots he recommends, from Chino Farms near San Diego. But what about the other 99% of us who have to use regular carrots?

The recipe calls for a pound each of orange, yellow, and white carrots. If you can find these varieties at a farmer's market, definitely use them, since each variety has a slightly different flavor. Even if you can't find white or yellow carrots, orange carrots from the farmer's market will probably be sweeter and better-tasting than the carrots you can find at the grocery store.

I was stuck with standard carrots from the store. While the soup is still good, I didn't think it was terribly exciting or unique. It's a carrot purée with a very subtle hint of ginger. The deep-fried julienne of ginger that serves as a garnish helps to punch up the ginger flavor, but it's also an example of restaurant-itis. While it's simple to toss a handful of ginger into the deep fryer in a restaurant kitchen, at home you've got to find a pot and commit to using and then disposing of at least 2 inches of oil that you cannot reuse (unless you've got a need for ginger-flavored deep-frying oil). I didn't think that one little handful of fried ginger was worth the effort and waste required to produce it. If I were to make this soup again, I'd skip the garnish.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: about 50 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1/4 cup peanut oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp minced green onions
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound orange carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound yellow carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound white carrots, peeled and thinly sliced (if yellow and white carrots are unavailable, use a total of 3 pounds of orange carrots)
1 Tbsp salt, plus additional for seasoning
1/2 tsp white pepper, plus additional for seasoning
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 Tbsp honey, or to taste
8 cups vegetable broth, plus additional if necessary
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz. unsalted butter (8 Tbsp)
Oil, for deep-frying
1/2 cup julienned ginger

In a stockpot, heat the oil and sauté the garlic, minced ginger, green onion, and crushed red pepper for 1 to 2 minutes, or just until glossy. Do not allow the aromatics to develop color. Add the carrots, 1 Tbsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, turmeric, and honey. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirrring constantly. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the cream. Cook, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until carrots are tender. Add butter and allow to melt, then remove the pot from the heat.

Transfer soup to a blender and purée in batches. Put the purée into a new stockpot and add extra broth if it's too thick. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and honey. Keep warm. Deep-fry the julienned ginger until golden brown, about 1 minute. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with fried ginger.

 

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©2005 Colleen Flippo. All rights reserved. Contact the author.