October 24, 2010

Szechwan Carrot Soup

I took this Spicy Szechwan Carrot Soup to a food blogger potluck last night, hosted by Appetite Portland (thanks, Dawn and Adam!), and I was a little nervous about it. I thought it was good, but would my food critic friends??

Turns out I had no reason to fret; after all, food is intensely personal- some people are going to like what you like and some people aren't. The good thing about friends is that they'll be too polite to tell you if they don't like it anyway. But I trust that this is a good soup to bring to potlucks- it's rich but not too heavy, while flashes of heat and spice dance across your tongue.

Adam made the main dish, Proscuitto Wrapped Hake, and I highly recommend it. He used fennel, which is not included in the recipe linked here, so be sure to add it. It gave the dish great little zings of flavor throughout the braised veggies.

Szechwan Carrot Soup
Adapted from Epicurious

1 medium onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
a 3/4-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and sliced thin
1/8 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 pound carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup coconut milk

Heat oil in a large stockpot. Add onions and heat until translucent. Add celery, garlic, and ginger, and saute a few minutes more. Throw in the chopped carrots and chili flake, and cover with chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and then simmer over medium heat until carrots are tender (about 45 minutes to an hour).

When carrots are fork tender, stir in the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth in batches in your food processor or with your immersion blender.

Suggested topping is sour cream mixed with 2 tablespoons of heavy cream, but I didn't find it needed anything.