Doylestown Farmers’ Market has such elegant veggies. With my local market already closed for the season and a free Saturday, I decided to check out this central Bucks County market. Haven’t been here in years and what a surprising variety of choices, especially my favorite – vegetables! Autumn vegetables are not only beige roots, like potatoes and turnips, but a harvest rich with colors ranging from deep-burgundy radicchio to cream and pink freshly dug baby ginger. Even mushrooms are holding their own now that fall showers have brought forth orange chantarelle, red-orange lobster, yellow foot, and black trumpets. Oh, and bright green pea shoot tips…just because. Three local organic farms contributed to this simple, bright soup. The carrots I picked up on Friday from my friends Rosie and Dan at Swallow Hill Farm. The ginger is from Linda and Eric at Barefoot Gardens and the don’t-get-me-started-with-adorableness pea shoot tips are from Roots to River Farm.
My harshest critic is Poor Lewis. Yes, I know. He looks so innocent. My excitement over the photo of the soup was instantly dampened when his reaction was of shock. What, he doesn’t think it’s the best photo of carrot soup to ever grace this planet? No, it’s strangeness is most likely a result of the “floating-in-space effect of the soup-bowl flying saucers”. Jeez. And the “carrot top forest”; let’s not even go there.
We tasted the soup hot, but had it cold for dinner. Tried to keep it delicate, reminding myself to allow the fresh ginger to shine. We are talking fresh here. A tiny bit of moist organic dirt still clung to the tubers. Holding back from using any assertive garlic, I focused on the carrot/ginger first, then a bit of lemongrass and a squeeze of lime for tartness, ending with hot red pepper flakes to top off the flavors and add some zing.
Eric at Barefoot Gardens told me that the ginger leaves can be used to steep fresh ginger tea. I feel a bit shy talking with the young farmers from Barefoot and Roots. They are so dang young! It really feels like a lifetime ago that my girls were in elementary school and there were sheep, goats, one dozen white Muscovy ducks, 100 chickens, and the ubiquitous barn cats and field dogs (eventually porch dogs) running a muck. We never made any money growing salad greens, but we grew the tastiest salad this side of the Rocky Mountains. Parkslope Food Co-Op came up in the conversation with Eric. It brought up back such fond memories of Joe and Allen, two of the original founding members of the famous co-op. They mentored me for a few years, but nothing could have prepared me for Kings Supermarket. Another story. Exhausted, sometimes literally buzzing from the fatigue of field work and the 4am drive to Brooklyn, I had a sense of pride when Joe would get on the intercom and announce that The Salad Lady’s here and would anyone like to talk to her. Incredibly, people would! Then off to Balducci’s and Dean and DeLuca, where the reception was not so loving.
- 1 tablespoon canola or coconut oil
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2"piece of fresh ginger or 1"piece regular ginger, finely chopped
- 1 bunch carrots, thickly sliced
- 6 cups water
- 3" piece lemongrass, smashed (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Juice of 1 lime
- ¼ teaspoon Aleppo dried red pepper to garnish
- Heat the oil and shallots in a soup pot on medium heat and cook until the shallots are softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the ginger and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the carrots, water, lemongrass, and salt. Make sure the carrots are just covered with liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the carrots are very tender.
- Remove the pot from the heat, Remove the lemongrass from the soup and discard.
- Ppuree with a handheld blender to a smooth consistency.
- Add the lime juice and stir to combine. Taste and adjust salt, if needed.
- Place in bowls and sprinkle with dried red pepper.
- Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold.
Change up the flavors, if you wish. Cumin, cinnamon, cilantro, garlic, leeks, cream, coconut milk, yogurt, or freshly ground black pepper. Vegetables and fruits you could add would be celery, celery root, turnips, parsnips, fennel, apple, orange, pear. Let me know what your favorite combinations are.