Sweet Light (Recipe: Carrot Soup with Fresh Mint)

Carrot Soup 4 with Yellow Softened Border

Hello All: For anyone who loves to create stories with a camera lens, sweet light, the light of the first and last two hours of the day, is considered an essential time to capture rich tones within an image. Here in Northern New England, where any natural light is coveted after a long winter, sweet light takes on special meaning. It is the time between the night and the dawn, the workday and  a restful evening.  It is the process of transition from dark to light, cold to warm, that arouses the senses and the inquisitive elements deep in the core of a New Englander’s nature, deep in the core of our collective soul.

Perhaps that’s why I find myself craving foods that naturally bridge this time of transition. This Carrot Soup with Fresh Mint is an ultra-light soup that mirrors the colors of sunset with its fabulous orange liquid garnished with cool, refreshing  green mint. Equally delicious  hot or cold, this soup can serve as an appetizer to whet the senses  for a multi-course  meal, or full-bodied enough to be the center of your dinner when all else you need is a dollop of sour cream, a crust of fresh bread, a wedge of rich cheese and a cuppa cool ale to toast in the evening with loved ones. Thanks to each of you for your warm responses and support of my Feeding the Hungry initiative, a virtual food drive to benefit Feeding America . You help make this project a labor of love. I appreciate all your donations, and your interest in how, through small tweaks in my family’s food budget, I have been able to begin to put money aside for this important cause.

To that end, please join me on May 4 at Upper Valley Yoga in White River Junction, Vt. The generous merchants of that enchanting  village celebrate First Friday, by opening up their shops and businesses to special events for all. Leslie Carleton, owner of the studio and beloved teacher, along with Sharon Gouveia Comeau, beloved teacher as well, have organized a craft evening at the studio to allow the practitioners at the school to shine—off  our individual mats. There will be artists, farmers, weavers and more there displaying their crafts. I will be there, too, with my spice blends, handing out gift bags in exchange for any and all donations to my Feeding the Hungry food drive.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, and in White River Junction, gathering flavors soon.

Dena


CARROT SOUP WITH FRESH MINT

Yield: 6 to 8 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, preferably red, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon Garam Masala
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups fresh carrots, peeled, trimmed and chopped into large dice
  • 5 cups water or stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Handful fresh mint leaves, rinsed and gently chopped
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream or crème fraiche (optional )

Instructions:

  1. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the onions and cook until they become soft and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the chopped garlic cloves. Stir them to mix in with the cooked onions. Add the Garam Masala and stir the spice mixture into the cooked vegetables. Cook for a minute or two to bring out the flavor and aromas of the spices. Add the tomato paste. Stir again. Add the chopped carrots, water or stock, bay leaf and parsley. Stir. Bring the liquid to a boil then lower the temperature of the stove top to bring the liquid to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until the carrots are tender, stirring occasionally. This should take 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the pot from the stove top. Using a slotted spoon or heat proof tongs, remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. If you have an immersion blender, purée the soup right in the pot. If you have a conventional blender, allow the soup to cool slightly. Purée it in one or two batches. Return the soup to the pot and heat it through. Taste. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  3. The soup can be served hot, cold or at room temperature.
  4. When ready to serve, divide the soup between 4 bowls or glasses. Sprinkle each serving with a handful of fresh mint leaves and a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche, if using.