21 February 2012

Perfect Carrot & Coriander Soup



My dad says that I "attack life."

For my 16th birthday, I got a puppy. He was this really happy, sweet little dog that was full of kindness and excitement. That is, however, until he would smell some kind of chaseable/eatable animal, whereupon he instantly turned into a hunting machine. He'd dive into a river chasing a beaver into it's den, dig up the earth persuing a rabbit down it's hole, and torment raccoons who were twice his size. He dreamed big. He'd go running off after something, and we'd shout to call him back to us - to protect him. But the switch had flipped in his brain and he was no longer our sweet little pup. He was a predator on the attack. He was fearless and absolutely insane when it came to getting what he wanted. Dad says that this is what I am like.

I can't really argue with his logic.

I've been off on my own trail lately. My goals have grown and changed with time -- but mostly just grown ever bigger. First it was my MSc, then PhD, and I've become rather used to my personal goals increasing at an alarmingly exponential rate. The last time I told my dad about everything I'd been up to recently, he laughed HARD. I could hear the smile and sparkle in his eyes as he asked me, "Jeez, Kristen, who ever made you think you could have it all?" I laughed, too, but more softly than he. "Um, you did, don't you remember?" We laughed a moment more and then changed the subject, since this was the closest thing we've had to a serious conversation in about 10 years, and it was all getting just a little too awkward.

So, because life keeps getting bigger and busier, and because I might not actually know how to slow down, it's easy for me to forget how passionate I am about cooking my own food. I have a job which requires not just my working hours (there are 20 of these in a day, right?), but also a good heaping of stress and tears and possibly also my soul - and sometimes I just plain forget to eat. Then, I look up and realise it's 4pm and there's a hole in my stomach because I haven't eaten since the previous evening. I just get a bagel out of the freezer and go to town since it's the fastest thing to do, and if I try to stand in front of the stove and cook something, I'll likely fall over and burn my face on the skillet on my way to the floor.

The solution? Soup. Soup is fast and low-maintenance. Soup is healthy. It'll feed my brain and keep me from passing out during my workaholic benders.

I was reminded of why I love to cook with my first bite of this soup. Delicious, comforting, easy and nutritious - these are some adjectives that describe this stuff. Another one: balanced. All the flavours are just right, and while carrot & coriander soup is a classic, it's not boring. It's incredibly far elevated above the stuff you've eaten from a can. It actually made me feel good to eat it. I even slowed down for a while, stopped working, and savoured it.

I have great things in my life, and I am a thankful lady. I wouldn't trade any of it... I can't help it, I just WANT IT ALL. Totally do-able.



Carrot & Coriander Soup
Adapted from Delia

25g butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
900g chopped carrots
700ml vegetable stock
sea salt (I used Maldon) + pepper to taste
chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
greek yogurt or crème fraîche for serving

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and coriander, cook until foamy and fragrant. Add carrots and cook in the butter mixture until they are beginning to soften. Add stock and 2 big pinches of salt. Simmer until carrots are cooked through, 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and purée with hand blender - I like to leave some chunks but you can do this to whatever consistency you prefer. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Mix chopped coriander into soup, leaving some aside for garnish. Serve with a spoonful of greek yogurt or crème fraîche and the reserved coriander.


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