I came out of my quiet little blogging closet to drum up votes for the Saveur award (I was scared to have a vote count so dismal the Saveur editors would reconsider their nomination, so thanks very much to those of you who took action to my plea!), and now I find it funny that I now appear as a more Serious Cook to people who knew me for years in real life without knowing about the blog.
In fact, serious cookery is exactly what I’m not about. I’m a home cook with limited time, like millions of others. What I have an eye for here is high-payoff, low-effort, honest food that anyone can make. I also have a soft spot for heritage recipes, from grandmas (and grandpas) Chinese and otherwise, that endure through generations of kitchens.
Family cooking is not about fuss or show; it’s about sharing, togetherness, nourishment and love. That’s what I’m about too.
Of course, family cooking is not limited to family – it’s a style of cooking and eating that is casual, relaxed and welcoming, whether for loved ones or new guests.
This Easter we joined my friend Nancy’s family dinner, and it felt as comfortable as if it had been our own. Nancy and I have known each other since seventh grade, and our oldest kids will start school together next year, at the same age Nancy and I were when we met (a realization that both warms and crushes my heart).
Easter dinner wasn’t a very fair trade. I brought six people – my husband, four kids and mom – plus strawberries from the farmers market and roasted cauliflower. In return we all feasted on ham, roasted potatoes and baby artichokes, salad with asparagus, baked macaroni, deviled eggs and hot cross buns.
But after Easter sweets and vacation excess, what we loved most of all was the smooth, tingly, comforting carrot soup made by Nancy’s sister-in-law Anne. Creamy without cream, the bright orange soup was a fresh elixir of health and energy. We went home and made a pot of our own the next day.
Ingredients are few: carrots, onions, ginger, butter, chicken broth and a touch of orange juice. You could use vegetable broth for a vegetarian option, and swap olive or coconut oil for butter if you’re vegan.
A plus about blended soups is that you don’t need to be precise with chopping. Smaller diced carrot would cook faster, but even large pieces like this will cook in 20 minutes.
The hardest part is grating the ginger. Scraping off the thin peel is easy with a spoon.
Ginger can have some tough fibers, depending on the age and maturity of the root. A coarse grater works faster if your ginger isn’t too fibrous. A small grater will give you some ginger juice with your grated ginger. You can also cut slices of ginger crosswise and then chop finely.
In the end, the ginger will get blended with the soup, but grating/chopping helps get rid of the long stringy fibers that don’t blend well.
Soften onions in butter.
Carrots and broth.
A bit of orange juice for brightness. Cover halfway and simmer.
Test a large piece of carrot with a fork for tenderness.
A handheld immersion blender is very convenient for soups. But you can also puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor.
Taste the soup before seasoning with salt and pepper. Depending on your broth and the spiciness of your ginger, you probably won’t need much of either.
This bright, velvety soup makes a lovely presentation too. Now that I’m out with the blog, my guests may actually know how easy it is to make.
But yours won’t.
Congratulations to this year’s winners of the Saveur Best Family Food Blog award: Dinner, A Love Story and editors’ pick, In Praise of Leftovers. Such a thrill to be a finalist in the great company of Dash and Bella, Pure Ella and Some the Wiser. I am in awe of all.
And don’t feel a bit bummed for me, the contest was great fun, and of course your readership is all the encouragement I could ever want. I am excited to attend Saveur’s awards dinner in May, which will be my first time in Las Vegas. I can’t wait to meet everyone.
Carrot Ginger Soup
Creamy without cream, this smooth, tingly, comforting soup is a fresh elixir of health and energy. Quick and easy to make, it looks impressive enough for company.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 2 pounds carrots, chopped (7-8 cups)
- 4 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated (approximately 1 2-ounce ginger root)
- 6 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add grated ginger and cook another minute.
- Add carrots, stock and orange juice; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low, half-cover the pan with a lid and cook until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes (test with fork).
- Blend carrot mixture until smooth with handheld immersion blender. Alternatively, blend in batches in a food processor or blender.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, thinning with water to desired consistency if necessary. If you like, garnish with chopped fresh herbs or a dollop of Greek yogurt, sour cream or creme fraiche.
- The only challenging part is grating the ginger. Use a spoon to scrape off the thin peel first. Some ginger grates better on a coarse grater, some does better on a small grater – it depends on the age/maturity of the ginger. You can also cut slices of ginger crosswise (against the grain), and then mince it with a knife. In the end, it will get blended with the soup, but grating/chopping helps get rid of the stringy fibers that don’t blend well.
- Carrots can be scrubbed well and left unpeeled. Thick pieces (1-inch) are fine to cook in 20 minutes, though small pieces will cook more quickly if you are in a rush. If you cut the carrot in half lengthwise first, and then lay each half flat-side down as you cut, the pieces won’t roll off the cutting board.
- Vegan option: use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and olive oil (or coconut oil) for butter.
Here’s the link to a printable version.