Growing up with a grandmother whose favourite food is soup, I used to have a bowl of it (most often Cantonese slow-cooked soup or fish broth, but occasionally a can of Campbell’s to placate the kids) at every evening meal. When I left for college, of course, that habit died out (save for a month of dieting on Campbell’s 120-calorie chunky soups), and when I came to Shanghai with my boyfriend, soup drinking became an even rarer event, since he is not a fan.
Soup still has a place in my heart, though: tomato shrimp bisque is a family Christmas tradition, and nourishing my body via slow-cooked soup is a must-do when I visit my grandma once a year. When I started my current job, I happily discovered that the City Shop downstairs sells three varieties of hot (well, it’s usually just warm) soup: vegetable (5 RMB), pumpkin (8 RMB), and cream of mushroom (12 RMB). The smooth, sweet, creamy pumpkin soup is nothing short of wonderful, and paired with a whole-wheat roll (2 RMB) and small yogurt (2 RMB) makes for a cheap, delicious lunch.
I’ve been meaning to attempt to make it at home, but pumpkins are heavy, bulky, and a struggle to peel, and I shudder to imagine the buckets of full cream it’d take to achieve the desired consistency. So when I came across Stonesoup’s super simple carrot soup that claims to rival pumpkin soup, I was intrigued. (I’m also always looking for good ways to use carrots, since I only enjoy it raw or when boiled til super soft/tasteless.)
With nothing in the crisper this morning but carrots and onions (yes, I keep my onions in the fridge), today seemed like a good day to dig up the recipe and give it a whirl.
The recipe calls for 2 brown onions, 1 bunch baby carrots, 1 tin tomatoes, dried chili flakes, and soy sauce. I had regular carrots and plain pasta sauce, which would have to do. I threw in a few small cloves of garlic, as one commenter suggested.
After cooking the veggies, tomato sauce, and water until the carrots became soft, I needed to cool the mixture down a little before pouring it in my cheap plastic blender. So I left it under the fan for about 10 minutes.
I then processed it in two batches.
The result was flavourful, and looked pretty, but did not resemble pumpkin soup at all in taste. Even though I only used maybe 3 heaping tbsp of tomato sauce, the acid completely overwhelmed the carrot’s sweetness, and adding sugar didn’t seem to help much. The chili flakes were a mistake that I should’ve seen coming, as I expect a soup of that colour to be soothing and sweet; this was spicy and tart.
Actually, this would have been a fine outcome if I had expected tomato soup — it had a great consistency for being cream-free, and would’ve been satisfying with some crusty bread or as a sauce. In fact, I might use the leftovers (the recipe yielded 4 bowls) with some pasta and see what happens :-)
This is definitely down for a second attempt. Next time, though, I plan to use fresh tomato (tinned is expensive here), cut out the chili, and have some fresh-baked bread at the ready. Will post an adapted recipe if it works out!
Update (2011/07/10): The leftover soup worked wonderfully as an alternative pasta sauce, which I used with penne and some corn niblets. A much more pleasant way of facilitating my carrot intake than mixing pasta with diced carrots, and makes cooking pasta at home even more cost-effective. (This puree does contain a bit of pasta sauce, but I’ll bet it’d work just as well with some fresh, cooked tomato.) Next time I’ll throw in an egg and see if it doesn’t up the creaminess factor.