Monday, January 12, 2015

Carrot, Coconut & Cardamom Soup... conspiring to comfort !

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I am studiously avoiding the bathroom scales because I know that after a Christmas of feasting it will more than likely say: “Gerroff, ya great lump!”
I got brilliant advice from a friend on how to lose weight instantly: “Turn the scales back 5kg on the 1st of January!” Unfortunately my bathroom scales are digital and they refuse to tell even the whitest of white lies. L If I’m to swap the slightly cuddlier post-Christmas me for a healthier lower-fat me ‘lite’, then it will be down to diet and exercise.

Luckily, with the turn of the year (and following multiple overdoses of chocolate truffles, mince pies, Christmas cake ...) I am craving healthy stuff – winter salads, green vegetables al dente, and soup, lots of lovely warming soup.
Today it is bitterly cold so I’m thinking... the sweetness of carrots, I’m thinking ... the warmth of cardamom ... the fresh zing of orange zest. So far, so good (tasty and reasonably healthy). However... I can’t quite leave behind the craving for richness against the harshness of winter, so I’m thinking a great big comforting swirl of nutty, creamy coconut milk.

The response from my coconut-detesting taste-tester?  “Oh ! That’s good !”
Healthy stuff...
For 6 - 8 portions of sunny soup that will surprise even a coconut-hater you will need...
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive (or 15g butter)
3 pods of cardamom, seeds only, crushed
½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest (orange part only)
500g carrots, (prepared weight), peeled and sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
750ml good quality chicken stock
1 x 400ml tin of unsweetened coconut milk
Salt and white pepper to taste 

Finely chopped coriander leaf or parsley to serve, and some crusty white bread or a delicious nutty wholemeal bread won't hurt

Place the olive oil (or butter) into a medium saucepan over a medium heat and add the crushed cardamom seed. Fry gently for about a minute before adding the orange zest, carrots, onion and garlic. Stir to coat in the oil (or butter), then turn down the heat to low.
Cover and cook gently without colouring for about 15 minutes, stiring every few minutes (if the vegetables appear to be sticking, add a little more oil or butter and make sure the heat is low enough – if the vegetables are sizzling, the heat is too high).
Next, add the chicken stock and unsweetened coconut milk. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover, and leave to cook gently for a further 15 minutes.
Finally, puree the soup – a stick blender is the perfect tool for this job. Taste and add salt and a little white pepper if necessary.
Serve with a sprinkling of finely chopped parsley or corriander leaf, or get posh and instead serve with parsley or corriander leaf oil artfully dotted on top.
Tuck in!
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