As a kid I was a peanut butter purist. No fluff, banana or jam was allowed in a ten-foot radius of my habitual brown-bag sandwich. Just chunky peanut butter and bread, period.
It’s not that I didn’t like fluff or bananas or jam. In fact, I had never even tried any of the above (and have actually to this day never had fluff, come to think of it). But I figured that my world was just fine with plain old peanut butter, thank you very much. Why mess with what works?
And until this week, I felt the same way about beautifully simple pureed carrot soup; sweet and fresh and flavored with a bit of onion and some sea salt, and not much else. But here’s the thing… if I never messed with what works, would I really have anything to write about? Of course not. And I can remember the day when I finally tasted the marriage of my beloved, slightly grainy, Smuckers chunky peanut butter and bright, sweet, Bonne Maman apricot jam (yes, Bonne Maman - my mom has long been a jam snob, thank goodness). The sticky jam cut right through the rich peanut butter, elevating the savory, salty roasted flavor of my dietary staple. And the slick texture of the jam made the little chunks in my Smuckers all that much more appealing.
Sometimes, even that which is pure and simple and beautiful can be improved. (Yes, peanut butter sandwiches are beautiful).
And while a plain old carrot soup can be quite lovely, especially when you have particularly sweet carrots, the garam masala here is like the jam to my peanut butter. To think what I’ve been missing all these years of basic carrot soup! The hint of heat and the up-front aromatic warmth of the spices make the carrots seem brighter and sweeter than they could possibly be on their own. Especially considering that I made this soup with the dregs of the vegetable drawer. I don’t even know how long those poor carrots had been lurking in there!
I made the soup as a last-ditch effort to avoid wasting all of those lovely carrots, which seem to come in mountainous piles from Farmer Greg, who I swear sneaks extra carrots into my CSA basket when I’m not looking. I planned to make the soup and freeze it for a someday lunch (it does freeze well, just don’t add the yogurt until serving). But a quick little taste and I went wild. First I licked the ladle. Then I moved on to run my finger along the edge of the blender, sucking off the silky orange puree. By the time I got to the pot itself, I gave up and grabbed a bowl. Not that I feel guilty… there’s nothing to feel guilty about here! You gotta love a recipe that takes just 20 minutes to prepare and is jam-packed with nutrition. But it doesn’t taste like it took 20 minutes. And it doesn’t taste like it’s healthy. In fact, it tastes downright indulgent, especially if you swirl in the greek yogurt, making the whole bowl lusciously creamy.
Spiced Carrot Soup
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin
3 cups peeled chopped carrots
3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, for serving
Saute the onion in the oil in a stock pot over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add the spices and continue to cook, stirring every so often, for about 5 minutes more. Add the carrots and broth and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered until carrots are very tender, about 15 minutes. Puree the soup in batches and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a dollop of yogurt, and some fresh herbs if desired.