Caramelized Carrot & Ginger Soup

March 12, 2013
by Jack McNulty
Caramelized Carrot & Ginger Soup

I always seem to get an urge to make something with carrots whenever the first hint of spring emerges from the cold winter soil. This year, carrot soup filled my mind. But, I wanted to make a carrot soup which really represented the taste of carrots stuck firmly in my memory – a distant recollection of pulling carrots out of the ground in the garden I planted.

The idea of caramelizing the carrots seemed like a good place to start, but I didn’t want the roasted notes to overpower the flavor of the carrots. Plus, roasting the carrots in the oven adds to the overall sweetness – something I wanted to avoid. So I settled on a different technique of caramelizing the carrots, which I found in the wonderful book, “The Modernist Cuisine” (also great stuff on the web). After reading the recipe, I was convinced that using the pressure cooker would achieve something different – caramelized carrots without drying them out. But, I wasn’t too thrilled with their recipe because I felt it was more complicated than necessary. I wanted simplicity…and elegance.

I decided to add the ginger to the recipe, which I felt would balance the overall sweetness of the carrots…and after tasting the results, I was pleased with the slight tickling in the throat from the ginger…but the soup still lacked acidity. My response was simple. I felt inspired from a favorite Moroccan style salad of carrots and oranges, so I added the orange juice to just give the soup enough acidity to create a nice balance in the mouth.

I also replaced the butter with olive oil and added a splash of sherry wine (I used an Oloroso). And that was it…the total time in making the soup was about 45 minutes and the results…well, I think this is one of the best soups I have made…or even tasted.

Caramelized Carrot & Ginger Soup
makes about 2 liters

600 grams carrots
50 gr. fresh ginger
65 gr. olive oil
30 gr. sherry
5 gr. salt
7,5 gr. ground ginger
2,5 gr. baking soda
750 gr. carrot juice
100 gr. orange juice

Begin by preparing the carrots. Wash and peel all of the carrots, then slice them into 5-cm long pieces. Now, go ahead and peel the ginger and slice them into slivers. Once you have prepared the vegetables, add the olive oil to the base of the pressure cooker. Stir in the carrots and ginger, then add the sherry, salt, ground ginger and baking soda (the baking soda is quite important because it creates an alkaline environment that will help caramelize the carrots and create that lovely roasted flavor…something not normally achieved in a wet pressure cooker atmosphere). Once everything is set with the pressure cooker, go ahead and seal it, then over high heat bring the pressure gauge to 1 bar (15 psi). Reduce the heat to maintain the same pressure and set your timer for 20 minutes. When you hear the beeper sound, depressurize the cooker quickly by running water over the rim. With a hand immersion blender, puree the carrots and ginger until quite smooth. Add the carrot and orange juice and continue to blend. When the soup is completely blended, strain it into a clean pot. Check the seasoning of the soup when it is warmed. Serve hot or cold…and keep the garnishes very simple to preserve the fresh carrot and ginger flavors.