Did I mention it's been hot here? Like really, REALLY hot. Like high 90s with high humidity hot. Like New York City in August stuck on the 3 express at rush hour hot. You get the picture. One way we try to beat the heat here is to picnic along the banks of the Seine. Not that any rejuvenating cool ocean breezes come off that river, nor would you dare put a foot in (you might end up growing an extra toe!) but it's much more pleasant than sitting in a sweltering apartment or a crowded cafe with smoke lazily curling past your face. Our favorite spot is on the Port de la Tournelle where we are treated to gorgeous sunsets with Notre Dame and Pont de l'Archeveche as the backdrop. I know, pinch me.
I've been subsisting on watermelon and ice cream so I was so excited to receive my friend Gwen Walter's culinary newsletter, Pen and Fork, a week ago with a delicious recipe for Chilled Lemon Ginger Carrot Soup. This I could do! This recipe is from her cookbook, The Great Ranch Cookbook and since Gwen lives in Arizona, I figured she knew a thing or two about HOT.
Cooking the soup nearly killed me as I was loathe to even approach the stove much less turn it on. It was so hot (how hot was it?!) I didn't need to turn the burner on the melt the butter! But I persevered and the results were well worth it - a light, refreshing, lemony, cheerful soup perfect for these sweltering summer days.
Chilled Lemon Ginger Carrot Soup - serves 4
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 pound carrots, peeled, and chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 generous tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
zest of 1 lemon
2 (14 oz) cans low sodium chicken broth
water as needed
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons minced fresh chives (optional)
2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger (optional)
4 tablespoon tiny shrimp or lump crabmeat (optional)
1. Melt butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 2 minutes. Stir in carrots, ginger, cayenne and lemon zest.
2. Cook an addition 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently to coat carrots with the butter and evenly distribute the ginger, cayenne and zest.
3. Pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a good simmer and cook until carrots are fork tender, about 20 minutes.
4. Puree soup with an immersion blender until smooth. If you don't have one, you can use a blender. (CAUTION: Hot liquid shoots straight up in a blender so do not fill more than half full, unless you have a Vita Mix with variable speed, which can handle the whole amount.) If it is too thick, add water in 1/4 cup increments until you have your desired consistency.
5. Whisk in lemon juice. Taste, and add salt if desired.
6. This step is optional. Here I strained the soup in a mesh strainer. This isn't necessary, but I was just in the mood and it was still a bit too thick for me on such a hot day.
Note: Always use a metal spoon to push the soup through, never a wooden spoon because the mesh will catch on the spoon creating tiny splinters.
7. Chill soup in an ice bath and refrigerate until completely chilled. May be prepared the day before.
8. To serve, ladle about a cup of soup in chilled soup bowls or cups. Garnish with a sprinkling of chives and candied ginger, about a half teaspoon each for each serving. The garnishes are optional but really take it to an explosive flavor level.
Note: If you want to dress it up, top it with some chilled cooked shrimp or lump crabmeat.