Sunday, February 1, 2009

Thick Carrot Sweet Potato Taro Soup 厚いのスプ

厚い "atsui" : cordial, kind, warm (hearted), serious, faithful, thick, deep, heavy, serious, abundant, brazen, shameless.

I think Atsui Soup is a fair name for my most recent creation. It's thick, heavy, heartwarming, and shamelessly tasty. It's also surprsingly good for you, with a complex mix of Asian flavors imbued into a classic Western winter favorite. And it's easy to make! This is twenty times better than the carrot soup recipe I tried from the Silver Spoon book. And that one I made after comparing at least a dozen similar recipes on the internet! To be fair, that old carrot soup was also one of the first things I tried to cook here in Okinawa. I guess I must have leveled-up enough in experience to make something truly delicious.

The key to the sinfully creamy quality of this soup is the potatoes, which the first recipe I tried did not call for. Since I had taro and sweet potatoes (and carrots) lying around from the beef stew, I knew I had to make this!

This recipe requires only 1 pot, unlike others that make you sautee onions, take them out, blend the carrots, re-add them, etc, etc. And I think it tastes even better than those more involved recipes.

Oh, and to save time, I usually don't start cutting my vegetables until the cooking process has begun, much unlike the chefs I always see on TV. While something else is cooking, I'm cutting the next thing. AND for this recipe, since everything is going into the blender, you don't have to worry about cutting the garlic and onions as carefully as you otherwise might! Anyway, Now for what I did:

3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, diced
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 carrots
~1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled
1 medium taro (~0.5 lb)
3" ginger, diced
1 package (~1 tablespoon?) soup dashi--other soup stock can be substituted
1 gouging teaspoonful miso

Recommended Spices (Probably not mandatory, but, y'know):
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. allspice
1/2 t. tumeric
1 t. sweet basil
black pepper
red chili powder

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan. Add garlic. Add onions. Add brown sugar. Carmelize all. Meanwhile, dice the carrots, sweet potatoes, and taro into small pieces. Add them to the pot.**alternatively, leave root vegetables in bigger pieces, but cook for longer time.
  2. Add enough water to just cover the vegetables, about 5 cups. Add soup dashi, ginger, and miso. Season with maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice, basil, tumeric, black pepper, red chili powder. Simmer until carrots are soft and potatoes are fully cooked, adding water if it dries up too much, about 15 minutes.
  3. Optional: remove a portion of the cooked vegetables from the pot, to reserve as "chewable pieces" in the blended soup. After blending soup, re-add vegetables.
  4. Transfer soup to a blender. Cover blender. blend to desired consistency.
  5. TO SERVE: Just before serving, to thin soup, add milk. My soup was so thick, I added milk in a 1:1 ratio. Optional: garnish with plain yogurt, parsley (it won't need the extra flavor!)
Note: If you're going to save some in the fridge or freezer, do not add dairy! It will separate. (And it takes up too much space in the fridge). Reheat dairyless soup, then stir in milk or yogurt just before serving.

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