Have you ever been guilty of shamelessly licking your bowl in a restaurant because you just couldn't get over how good your meal was?
I just about did that a few weeks ago when I was out to eat with my cousin and her husband at Rustica. I scanned the menu for veg-friendly option that looked tasty and settled on the caramelized carrot soup. I didn't have any expectations for the meal as my main focus was enjoying time with my family. I expected a good soup that consisted of sautéed carrots that were pureed with some broth. I wasn't expecting the flavor bomb that was served to me.
This soup was like crack. I couldn't stop. I was trying to focus on conversation but couldn't stop thinking about the soup. The waitress was kind enough to get the recipe for me. I giddily took it from her and put it in my purse. When I looked at it the next day, I filed it in the back of my 'to make' list. It had lemongrass in it and I have never cooked with lemongrass, much less bought it in the store. I'm always eager to use new ingredients, but it was in the midst of the holidays and I ended up forgetting about it.
Lucky for you, the theme for the Recipe Redux this month is to cook with an ingredient that is new to us. I immediately remembered the soup and dug out recipe out. I made it my mission to recreate it. The recipe was not created for a home cook. It calls for equipment that most people wouldn't have at home and also made 12 quarts. Now, I liked the soup and have been eating it on repeat, but 12 quarts is a bit excessive. I used the recipe as an inspiration rather than following it step-by-step. If you guys are ever in the Kalamazoo area, you MUST call me and we MUST go to Rustica and get this soup.
This soup is velvety and creamy and uses just a small amount of coconut to round out the flavor. Aside from that, all you have is pure nutrition...carrots and lemongrass, baby. The original recipe calls for carrot juice. The first time I made this, I was feeling ambitious and made carrot juice in my Vitamix to use in the soup. The second time I made it, I streamlined the process and just used water. Side-by-side, the soup made with carrot juice has a slightly deeper flavor, but isn't necessarily worth the extra step. If you have some carrot juice laying around or are feeling ambitious, by all means...If not, you'll still get a mega dose of vitamin A and the carrot flavor by using just water. This soup is best enjoyed with a side of avocado toast (obvi).
Caramelized Carrot and Lemongrass Soup
Makes about 4 cups
Inspired by Caramelized Carrot Soup from Rustica
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped (about 20 carrots or 5 cups once chopped)
1 stalk of lemongrass, tough outer layer removed and chopped
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup water or carrot juice (see comment in post above)
1/2 cup coconut milk (I used full fat)
1/4-1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (to taste)
1/4-1 teaspoon honey (to taste)
1/4-1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1. Heat a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil. Add carrots and cook, stirring freqeuntly until slightly browned, approximately 5 minutes. Next, add lemongrass and stir to combine.
2. Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in a small bowl. Add mixture to pot with carrots and lemongrass. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until carrots are fork tender, approximately 20 minutes.
3. Add carrots and any liquid remaining to a high power blender. Add 1 cup of water or carrot juice and blend on high until smooth and velvety, approximately 2 minutes. Return soup to pot, stir in 1/2 cup coconut milk. Season to taste with apple cider vinegar, honey, and salt (note: I added 1/4 teaspoon of each at a time and tasted in between each addition).