Thursday, January 26, 2017

Spicy Carrot Bisque

Gentle reader, last weekend my friend Martie overbought at the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket—as one does, because everything looks so exciting—and since she was going on a trip, she had me over for a delicious dinner and sent me home with produce that I promised to give a good home. (There was also some amazing cheese that does not figure into this post, but I felt I should acknowledge it.)

There were 4 thick stubby carrots that I thought would work well in soup form, especially if given a little heat, in this cold weather. Also, I too had some excess in my fridge, in the form of 3 containers of sour cream, because whenever I go to the store I forget whether I have sour cream in the fridge and I buy more. So, I made this REALLY delicious bisque.

Melt ½ stick butter in a saucepan and add ½ yellow onion, chopped. Cook over medium heat, stirring.

When softened slightly, add carrots, cut into half-coin shapes, and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Grate fresh nutmeg onto the carrot mixture. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring.

Optional: Add the white part of one bok choi stem, diced. (You may recall that I recently used bok choi in my pork ramen; I had more to use up. Excess—don't waste it!)

When everything is softened, add 2 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock, 2 cups water, the juice of ½ lemon, and 2 inch-ish pieces of dried chile de arbol or another dried chile pepper with some heat. Raise burner heat to high, bring just to a boil, and then turn heat to medium/medium-high-ish and give it a good stir.

Cook, stirring occasionally and gradually adding more water as needed to keep the veggies well covered (I probably added at least 2 more cups), until the wooden spoon you’re using to stir can smush a sample carrot against the side of the pot as easily as Mariska Hargitay would flatten a perp against a wall on SVU.

Then turn off the heat and puree the whole mixture with an immersion blender, increasing speed incrementally, until it’s velvety and smooth. Feel free to add some more water at this stage too; just do it a little at a time so you don’t make it overly watery.

Add about ½ cup sour cream and pulse that into the mixture until the velvetiness has increased twofold, for a total VL (velvetiness level) of 200. (This is not a real measure, gentle reader. I’m just messing with you.) Taste and add more salt as needed, and/or something like paprika or cayenne if you want a bit more kick.

Optional, but highly recommended to balance the heat and further increase velvetiness: Toss in some cilantro leaves and puree until they’re just flecks. At this point your VL should be about 300. (Again, gentle reader, I’m just messing with you. Don’t freak out.)

This soup came out amazing and could be doctored with other kinds of spices and/or herbs, heavy cream instead of sour cream, the addition of some parsnip to the carrot, or whatever floats your bisque. You could also float in the bisque some croutons, crushed bits of bacon, or chives. Hell, you could float any number of things in this soup and it would still be January-belly-warming and deliiiisssshusss. Here’s to overbuying food (but not wasting it)!

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