During my early morning walk today, I heard the sound of gunfire in the distance. It was a jolt and a reminder that hunting season has begun in New Hampshire. While I respect the rights of others to hunt for their food, I also hate the threat of violence that accompanies that sound of the gunshots and loathe the sight of pickup trucks with recently killed wildlife tied to the back.
I live in the country because I love the quiet and the charm of the miles of woods and fields that surround us. I adore the site of a deer running through the apple orchard behind our house, of large groups of turkeys following each other across our front yard and into the woods, and even the occasional moose lumbering along the roadside. To me, this is magic.
So, when I heard the gunfire, I turned up the sound on the headphones I was wearing to hear the story, Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje. I thought I had successfully rid myself of the distraction of external noise when a rush of easily fifty to sixty blackbirds descended on a set of trees I was passing and began to call to one another in songs that were full of a remarkable energy. The sound was as if a large group of flamenco dancers were wielding their castanets and delicately stomping their feet, rhythmically enchanting one another with their grace and determination. I removed my headphones, stopped in amazement to enjoy their performance and found the calm that I had been searching for on my walk filled me at once. It was a moment I will never forget. The gunfire didn’t return. All that remained was beauty.
I made this Roasted Carrot and Potato Soup with Kale Salad soon after I returned home from my magical walk. Roasting the vegetables before adding them to the soup brings out their natural sweetness and adds a smoky flavor to the entire dish. They are then tossed with curry powder and simmered until tender enough to purée. The smooth soup is then topped with a salad filled with tender lacinato kale, radishes, and hemp seeds to add a crunchy texture and coolness to this slightly spicy soup. The flavors and the colors are perfect for the season.
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.
Roasted Carrot and Potato Soup with Kale Salad
Yield: 4 Servings
To make the soup:
- 4 medium sized potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed of excess dirt, peeled as needed
- 1 pound carrots, trimmed, rinsed and peeled as needed
- 2 small onions, peeled and sliced into thick strips
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 4 cups stock, chicken or vegetable
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Chop the potatoes and carrots into large chunks. Toss together and place on one of the prepared sheet pans. Place the sliced onions and garlic on the second prepared sheet pan. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and place in the oven. Roast until browned on the outside and cooked through, about 20 minutes for the potatoes and carrots, and ten minutes for the garlic and onions. Remove from oven. While they are still hot, sprinkle the curry powder on the onions and garlic. Toss together.
- Allow the cooked vegetables to cool slightly, then place in the bottom of a large soup pot. Cover with stock and add the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Stir. Place on the stovetop. Bring the liquid to a boil, stir everything together, and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer until all the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Remove the soup from the stovetop and allow to cool slightly. Using heatproof tongs, remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick from the pot. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Place the pot back on the stovetop and reheat the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve warm garnished with Kale Salad. Recipe follows.
To make the kale salad:
- 1 bunch tender kale, such a lacinato
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 radishes, cut into slivers
- ¼ cup hemp or sesame seeds
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Rinse the kale with cool water. Shake off any excess water but do not dry. Remove the stems and spine in the center of the leaves then tear the kale into bite-sized pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini and lemon juice. Pour onto the prepared kale. Using your fingers, rub this mixture into the kale leaves. Cover loosely and let sit for at least 20 minutes or up to an hour.
- Add the radishes, seeds, salt and freshly ground black pepper to the prepared kale. Toss all the ingredients together.
- The soup and the salad can each be served on their own.
- For a richer soup, drizzle with cream or half and half before serving.
- To make a heartier salad, add croutons, crispy bacon and a sprinkling of cheese.