Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Ginger Carrot Bisque – a perfect transition into fall
As fall approaches mountain towns such as ours begin to decorate with pumpkins, scarecrows and cornstalks and I begin to think of what I call transitional foods. They are the kind of recipes that bridge the gap between the changing of the seasons. In the fall transitional foods are lighter than the recipes we associate with cold days in the winter such as heavy stews or hardy soups, yet they aren’t the light weight summer salads I featured last week either. They fall somewhere in between. In the fall you might call them “before the leaves change” recipes.
One of my favorite transitional foods is bisque. It’s not really a soup or a broth and it’s certainly not a stew – it’s somewhere in between, just like the first few weeks when summer draws to an end and fall begins. My friend Christo from Chez What refers to bisque as soup’s royal cousin.
Some of my favorite recipes for bisque use pumpkin, which is certainly a fall favorite. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember my Pumpkin Bisque, which I served in demitasse cups as a classy appetizer for a dinner party. All gussied up and served in fine bone china demitasse cups the pumpkin bisque did look rather royal. Guests are quite surprised when they are served bisque (or soup) to sip from a demitasse cup. I always get “oohs and ahs” when I pass it on a silver platter. Give it a try sometime – you’ll be pleasantly pleased and so will your guests.
If you can find organic carrots with their green tops attached for this bisque, they are so much fresher and tastier than the bagged variety. Don’t bother too much with perfect chopping of the vegetables – they get pureed in the end, so don’t waste time on something that doesn’t show. But at the same time, you don’t want some pieces large and some small because they won’t brown well or cook evenly. Serve as a first course or snazzy appetizer.
Ginger Carrot Bisque
Adapted from Barefoot Kitchen Witch & The Herb Companion
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 ½ pounds carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of peeled and finely chopped fresh gingerroot
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
3 ¼ cups chicken stock
¾ cup dry white wine
¼ cup half and half or cream (optional)
Finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
Melt the butter in a large stock pot. Add the onions, celery and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about five minutes. The carrots do not have to be completely cooked. Season with the salt and pepper, then add the garlic and ginger and sauté a minute or so, taking care not to let the garlic burn. Add the cumin, coriander and orange peel and stir for a minute or two more.
Add the chicken stock and wine, cover and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, reduce heat to simmer and cook until the carrots are soft, about 10 – 20 minutes, depending on the size of the carrot pieces. When the carrots are soft, transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree in batches until smooth. Return to the stock pot and, if desired, add the half and half or cream and stir well. Reheat over low until the bisque is hot. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve right away.