People have been making soup ever since they started cooking. It was a simple way of combining various ingredients to make a tasty, easily digested meal. It was perfect for all cultures, whether sedentary or travelling, could be transported easily and made during any season.
Soup was, (and still is) commonly served to invalids as a convenient way to feed them something as nutritious as possible with the least effort needed to eat it. The French called these soups ‘restoratifs’ and they were served in the first public restaurants in 18th century France and it is from this that the word ‘restaurant’ originates.
Advancements in science have allowed the creation of many different forms of soup – tinned, powdered as well as ready-made for the microwave. It seems to be the one type of food that can be just as satisfying as ‘fast food’ as it is when home made. I still have nostalgic memories of returning home from school on a freezing winter afternoon to a steaming bowl of Heinz Cream of Tomato soup with a thick slice of buttered bread…mmmmm….
This carrot and ginger soup is wonderfully warming and comforting, while still having a delicacy of flavour from the sweet carrots, tangy orange juice and spicy ginger that makes it really something special. It makes the perfect starter for a winter dinner party – or a meal in itself with some crusty bread, a crackling fire and your favourite dvd as companions… and if you’re feeling ‘under the weather’ – the warm ginger will drive those sniffles away and – well, in the words of that famous carrot lover, Mr Bugs Bunny, “Eeeeeeee, What’s up Doc?”
Ingredients (for 4 large bowls or 6 small)
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 medium potato
1 piece fresh ginger (about the size of your thumb) finely chopped
200 ml orange juice
1 ½ litres vegetable stock
pinch of grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Preparation: Scrape the carrots, peel the potato and roughly cut into thick chunks about 2 cms thick.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and ginger and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes until soft.
Add the carrots, potato, stock and orange juice. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let it simmer for about 45 minutes, until the carrots are very tender.
Using a hand-held blender, puree the soup in the saucepan. (Or you can let the soup cool slightly, then puree it in a blender or food processor.) Grate the nutmeg into the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste. If the soup is too thick, thin it with some water or more stock.
Serving: Reheat the soup gently over medium-low heat. Garnish with a drizzle of cream and a light sprinkle of nutmeg before serving.
Note: For a summery alternative, you can also serve the carrot and ginger soup chilled. Just refrigerate it, covered, until cold, for at least 6 hours.