Mr. Food Musing's mother is having her hip replaced tomorrow, so we're going down tonight for the Last Supper - anything she wants up until the witching hour of 12M! - and I am, in dutiful daughter-in-law fashion, taking down food to get her and Mr. Food Musing's father through the period of convalescence. Mr. FM's father is admirably health conscious; when I emailed to ask him what he might like me to bring, he left it open as long as I stayed away from "bad fat, sugar, and simple carbs." A challenge!
And, I might add, one that was easily met. Oh, I debated for a while - tuna Nicoise salad with crisp green beans and homemade garlicky vinaigrette? (Too much work composing it for the eater.) A vegan quiche from 101 Cookbooks? (Too much work for me - a reputed three hours!)
I turned to Mr. FM's mother for inspiration and she suggested soup. Of course - elixir for all known ails, including not having your wife in the kitchen to feed you dinner! I mentally raced through my repertoire: butternut squash, potato and kale, lentil with spinach? But nothing sang to me.
Thankfully, Bon Appetit obliged with a recipe for carrot soup in this month's issue. Rich in vitamins A and C, the soup can be served hot or cold - a bonus, since the weather in Northern California has veered wildy between extremes this week. The only fat involved is a mere tablespoon of butter. I've enhanced it by substituting freshly squeezed juice from this week's delivery of organic local Satsuma mandarin oranges for the storebought juice, and I threw in the knobby, hairy carrots they sent as well. Oh, the sacrifices we make for family!
Carrot Soup with Orange and Tarragon
Yield: 4 servings
1 TBSP butter
1 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped into small chunks
3/4 cup chopped onion
3 cups organic chicken broth
1/2 cup juice from freshly squeezed oranges
1 TBSP brandy (optional)
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
salt and pepper
fresh tarragon sprigs for garnish
1. Melt butter in heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and the carrots and saute until onion is soft, 6-8 minutes. Add broth; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, uncover and simmer until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes.
2. Puree soup smooth with an immersion blender or, working in batches, in your blender or food processor.
NOTE: If you use an immersion blender like I did, wear your apron and, if available, a ski mask or an old pair of pantyhose over your head. That will save you from several hours worth of wiping orange specks off your clothes, forearms and forehead (and the kitchen wall and the dish drainer...) Not that anything that amateur happened to me. I know better, of course. Though the recipe called for blending till "very smooth" I opted to settle for pleasantly chunky, à la paysanne. Purely a preference, nothing to do with a blending fiasco or anything like that.
3. In pot, stir in orange juice, brandy and chopped tarragon. Simmer for 5 minutes more to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with tarragon sprigs.