Carrot Sweet Potato Soup with Ginger & Coconut

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Am I overdoing it on the soups?  Is that possible?

This soup is both aesthetically and gastronomically pleasing… looking as beautiful in the bowl as it tastes in your mouth!  An undercurrent of rich coconut adds depth to the delicious combination of carrot, sweet potato, and ginger.

After making a huge pot of veggie broth yesterday, I realized that my freezer is a little too full to accommodate a bunch of cup-sized frozen broth cubes.  As I was mulling over the broth-y possibilities, R. pulled out the giant bags of carrots and sweet potatoes we bought on a rare trip to Costco, and pointed out the half-bar of creamed coconut that’s been waiting forlornly for a purpose for an indefinite period of time.  He asked if I could make these things into a soup.  Yes, yes I could.

(Note: I wanted a very subtle coconut flavour to complement the ginger, so I used only a quarter-bar of creamed coconut.  If you really like coconut though, I think you could add up to half a bar for a stronger coconut flavour.)

Yield: Lots…. probably a good 8 servings.  (Or, dinner + seconds + leftovers to freeze!)

  • 5 very large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • Olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, finely chopped
  • Cooking oil (I use canola)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 inches of ginger, minced
  • 2 smallish sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (more or less)
  • ¼ bar of creamed coconut (the full bar is 170g), roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup milk of choice (I used soy)
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 400.  Toss the carrots in olive oil and spread onto a baking sheet, then roast until softened through, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat some cooking oil over medium in a large stockpot.  Add the onion, celery, and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until softened.  Add about 3 cups of broth and the diced potatoes and turn heat to high.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft.  At some point during the simmer, the carrots will probably be done and can be added to the soup.

Once the potatoes are very soft, turn off the heat.  Stir in the milk and the creamed coconut and let the soup cool until it’s no longer hot enough to burn you if it splatters during pureeing.

Add fresh ground black pepper.  Using an immersion blender (or a food processor, but you’ll have to do it in batches), puree the soup.  Add more broth to reach your preferred consistency.  I tasted the soup before adding salt and discovered it was perfect, so I didn’t end up adding any at all!

Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil to serve.

Portobello Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Soup

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This thick, satisfying, autumn-flavoured soup tastes just like a bowl of juicy roasted Portobello mushrooms.  Actually, that’s exactly what it is.  How can you say no?

Years ago, after my undergrad, I had a part-time job in a psychology lab.  It wasn’t enough to pay the bills, so I decided to take a few shifts a week at a newly-opened takeout soup place in Halifax.  Suffice it to say, I only made it through two shifts.  During my brief time however, I tasted heaven in the form of a pureed Portobello mushroom soup.  The interesting thing was that back then, I hated mushrooms.  I don’t know how I even ended up trying it out, but that soup was so delicious that it stayed in my mind for years afterward.  I finally decided this week to try my hand at making a similar one.  Too much time has passed for me to say if this soup is really all that close to the one from years ago, but it’s so yummy that it doesn’t really matter.

Yield: A lot of soup… about 8 servings.

  • 10 large Portobello mushrooms, stems separated and caps cut into quarters
  • Olive oil
  • 3 yellow onions, diced
  • Canola oil (or other cooking oil)
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium white potatoes, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups milk of choice (I used unsweetened soy)
  • ½ cup red wine
  • Salt to taste

Heat the oven to 400.  Toss the cut mushrooms in a bit of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and spread in a single layer onto two parchment-lined baking sheets.  Roast for about 30 minutes, until soft and juicy.  Remove when done and put aside.

While the mushrooms are roasting, heat a frying pan over low-medium heat (about 4), and add some canola oil and the onions.  The key to caramelizing them nicely is cooking them at this low-ish heat for a while, about 30-40 minutes.  Stir them every few minutes.

When the onions are very soft and have begun to turn golden, add the celery and garlic and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so, until the onions look perfectly golden brown and gooey.  Add the broth, potatoes, and bay leaves and turn heat to high.  When the soup boils, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are very soft.  Carefully remove bay leaves.

Now stir in the mushrooms, milk, red wine, and salt (about ¾ teaspoon, or to taste).  This should cool the soup down sufficiently to allow you to safely puree it, using an immersion blender on the stovetop.  (Be sure to check that it’s not hot before you puree though.)  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you’ll probably have to do it in a few batches in a food processor.

Puree to a nice smooth consistency, then adjust seasoning as desired.  Gently heat the soup back up on the stovetop at medium heat, and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh parsley to serve.

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Favourite Recipes: Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup

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This roasted tomato and roasted garlic soup will mark the start of a series of posts on my favorite recipes from around the web.  I’ve been making this soup for years, since almost flipping past it on Rachael Ray’s show.  Yep, it’s 100% Rachael Ray; I haven’t even significantly tweaked it.  It’s perfect already!  Check out the full recipe here.

It’s the ideal time of year to find perfectly ripe and dirt-cheap roma tomatoes.  Seeing the abundance of these beauties at the store a few days prompted me to make a double batch of this ultra-healthy soup.  (It freezes really well, so I like to make lots and freeze half.)

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At this point, I’ve made this recipe enough times that I’ve stopped measuring things and just go with the flow.  I generally use more tomatoes than called for, and more garlic (surprise surprise!).  For this batch, I bought a ton of tomatoes and used as many as I could fit on two baking sheets, and five heads of garlic.  I use my own homemade broth, but you could certainly use whatever store-bought veggie broth you prefer.

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One tweak I like is to hold off on adding the fresh herbs (I use parsley and basil) to the tomatoes before roasting; rather, I add them to the soup just before pureeing, in order to keep the herbs tasting fresh and bright.  Also, instead of pureeing in multiple messy batches in the food processor, I use an immersion blender right in the soup pot (ensuring that the soup is not hot before blending).

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As an aside, I love to make mashed potatoes (or half-and-half mashed potatoes and cauliflower) to serve with this soup.  It’s the ultimate comfort-food combination.  I actually have gotten into the habit of putting a big scoop of mash into the bowl before covering it with soup and eating them together…. I know, it sounds weird, but if you try it I bet you’ll like it!

This soup (with or without mash) is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.  Some people may be surprised by a tomato soup without a creamy component, but they are quickly convinced.  It’s a fantastic, easy, and healthy recipe to add to your repertoire.  Thanks Rachael Ray!

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