Sunday, October 02, 2011

vegan mofo ::
carrot-potato soup and 20 variations

You can't judge a soup by its color.
There are so many reasons to love Carrot Potato soup, aka French Carrot Soup. First, there's the unapologetically autumnal flavor: earthy, comforting, slightly sweet and slightly starchy. Then there are the nutritional perks and frugality: vitamins A and B6, potassium, phytonutrients, fiber, etc – all for just pennies. And of course, simplicity is always a good thing, right? This burnt umber potage is so easy to make that even a culinary dunderhead could throw it together in less than 20 minutes of hands-on time. Finally, there's the reason for this blog post – the flexibility. This soup's neutral flavors make it receptive to countless customizations, depending on your mood, level of adventurousness, and what's lurking in your pantry. The base recipe packs a flavor wallop on its on. Twenty variation ideas follow. Feel free to add more suggestions as comments.

Carrot-Potato Soup [Base recipe]

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk [eg, soy, rice, coconut, hemp, almond]
  • 7 cups vegetable broth [Better Than Boullion is best]
  • About 3 medium potatoes, quartered [Peeled and quartered if not organic]
  • About 5 medium carrots, sliced

Serves about 6

Heat oil over medium in a stockpot. Saute onion and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook until carrots and potatoes are soft, about 30-40 minutes, adding more stock in 1/2 cup increments, if needed.
Puree carefully using a blender or an immersion blender. Enjoy as is, or customize, per ideas below.

20 Variations
  1. Curry: When sauteeing the onions and garlic in oil, add up to 1 T of your favorite curry paste [for a Thai version] or curry powder [for a Caribbean version]. Use coconut milk.
  2. Proven├žal: Add 1 T herbes de Proven├že. Top with chopped fresh basil or parsley.
  3. Protein-packer: After pureeing, add two cups of your favorite cooked bean or legume. Kidney beans and black beans provide an interesting color contrast.
  4. Smoky: Add up to 1T smoked paprika [or more, to taste]
  5. Fat-Free and Easy: Skip the oil and the saute step. Just toss the remaining ingredients into a pot and carry on with the recipe as written.
  6. Southwestern Chowder: Add 1 T chili powder. After pureeing, add 1 can [drained and rinsed] of black beans and 1 cup sweet corn. Top with chopped fresh cilantro.
  7. "Je Ne Sais Quoi:" For added sophistication and complexity, toss in 1-2 bulbs of fennel, chopped.
  8. Warming: Add 1 T minced fresh ginger to the onion-garlic saute. 
  9. Sunny: Replace the cup of non-dairy milk with 1 cup of orange juice, fresh-squeezed, if possible. Add zest of one organic orange. Top with chopped fresh cilantro.
  10. Dijon: After sauteeing onion and garlic, whisk in 1 T Dijon mustard.
  11. Lean and Green: This version makes a much lighter soup. Skip the non-dairy milk. Use 8 cups broth and after pureeing [unless you don't mind a mud-colored soup], add 2 cups of roughly chopped spinach.
  12. Hearty Andalusian: Add 1 T saffron and 1 tsp pimenton [Spanish paprika]. Use almond milk. After pureeing, add 2 cups cooked chickpeas and 1 cup toasted slivered almonds.
  13. Mexican: Add 1 T cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1 T oregano. Top with chopped fresh cilantro.
  14. Indian: Add 1 T minced ginger and up to 1 T garam masala. Top with chopped fresh cilantro.
  15. Pistou: Just before serving, top each bowl of soup with 1 T pesto.
  16. Latin-Style: Add 1 large green [unripe] plaintain, sliced,  and up to 1 cup sofrito
  17. Extra-earthy: Add 2 cups mixed chopped mushrooms.
  18. Sweet and Warming: Add 2-3 T maple syrup and 1 tsp cinnamon.
  19. Rosemary's Baby:  Incredibly harmonious flavor pairing! Skip the bay leaf and add the leaves from 3-4 fresh rosemary stems. 
  20. Asian Fusion: Substitute miso broth for veggie broth. Just before serving, top with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil and some mung bean sprouts.


Karena said...

Love, love, love this idea!! Definitely a keeper!

Suburban Snow White said...

Wow. I am printing this out and putting it into my cookbook. Thank you! Love the varieties!

JL goes Vegan said...

This is one of my favorite MoFo posts of the day. I think it looks GORGEOUS and I love the variations. Bravo!

B.A.D. said...

I love this idea! Make the same thing 21 times but always slightly different and equally as cheap/easy!

Babette said...

What a great post... this will be very useful when making a soup with what's available in my kitchen. I'm particularly curious about the Dijon variation.

Alex | Vegan Lick said...

Your recipe looks good! If you want something a little on the sweeter side, I would recommend adding one granny smith apple. It goes especially well with the carrot.

angielee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela said...

we made the southwest variation for was so easy and so yum! i think i might saute some green bell peppers and add them in with the beans and corn next time. :) also...can't wait to try the curried version.

legolandpenguin said...

This is wonderful...definitely going to have to make this soup soon, tough part is choosing which variation to make.

Cooking School said...

This soup is excellent, this is one of my favorite soup.It is tasty and healthy as well. Thanks for the recipe.

YumYumSushi99 said...

So excited I found this post! I have been experimenting with carrot soup variations, so this is like a gold mine! Thank you :)

YumYumSushi99 said...

Update: Tried the "Warming" variation with ginger. I couldn't taste the ginger at all once I cooked it, so added another tablespoon of fresh grated ginger into the finished batch and it is fantastic! Also added salt and pepper. Yummy! Thank you :)