Thursday, October 2, 2008

Veggie Might: Low-Down Curried Root Soup

Written by the fabulous Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about all things Vegetarian.

The autumnal equinox has come and gone, and it’s chilly in my pod at Air Conditioned Office Tower-Sealed Window Incorporated. Outside, the temperature fluctuates between Augustlike and early Junesque. But the calendar says it’s fall, so it must be.

Fall equals soup. Soup equals pureeing whatever vegetables I have on hand.

Root vegetables are like the basses (guitar, upright, profundo) of the vegetable world: a little dirty, sometimes peppery, sometimes sweet, and always laying down an earthy groove. And, though they don’t mind either way, every now and then, a bass gets the spotlight.

Last week’s CSA haul included turnips and radishes. My heart started beating with anticipation. I immediately thought of the 3 red potatoes on the table (leftover from a piss-poor potato salad attempt). And a carrot...I always have a carrot. A whole meal without a trip to the store.

This soup came together so quickly and easily, it’s almost embarrassing. Deciding on a flavor profile was simple too. I opened the cabinet, and a tin of fancy curry spice fell out and landed on the stove. Kismet.

The potatoes are the perfect base (thump) flavor. Turnips have a mild, loamy essence (thump) and radishes give the soup a spicy, peppery kick (thump). Carrots even it all out with a little sweet and give it a nice color. Orange is the official color of Fall™, after all.

The one risk I took paid off. The radishes still had the greens attached. I pondered whether to sauté them up on their own or just throw them right in the soup. I figured, what the Helen Reddy, and tossed them in. Roar! Worth the risk.

The greens add a layer of slightly bitter spunkiness, which the brown sugar balances nicely. Plus, the greens and the potato skins make the soup look like it’s been sprinkled with confetti.

This recipe also keeps well (around a week or so), and you can freeze some for later (I’ll let you know how that goes). Pureed soups are easier to pack for lunch too, since they’re less likely to leak from your containers than liquid soups. Three days this week, and the inside of my messenger bag is soup-free.

Bass solo.

Curried Root Vegetable Soup
Yields 4 to 6 servings

3 medium red potatoes (about 1 lb)
4 radishes with greens
1 small turnip (about 6 oz)
1 large carrot (about 6 oz)
3 cups water
1 large vegetable bullion cube (low-sodium)
1 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp to 1 tbsp brown sugar (to taste) (Note: I used 1 tbsp.)
Salt and fresh black pepper to taste (Note: I used 1/2 tsp salt, and since my curry is pretty powerful, I only added a couple grinds of pepper.)

1) Boil 3 cups of water in a large saucepan.

2) Scrub potatoes and quarter, leaving on the skins. Peel turnips to remove waxy rind and chop into small pieces. Remove radish leaves and stems, and peel and quarter radishes. Set aside greens. Scrub carrots and cut into large pieces. None of this has to be pretty; it’s all going into the blender eventually. While veggies are cooking, remove stems from radish greens. Wash and tear into small pieces.

3) When water boils, add bullion cube and vegetables. Bring to a boil again, and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until veggies are tender.

4) Add radish greens, curry powder, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.

5) Remove pan from heat and allow to cool for 30–45 minutes.

6) Ladle vegetables and broth into blender and puree to desired consistency.

7) Serve hot with naan or sourdough bread.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
101 calories, 0.18g fat, $0.41

3 medium red potatoes (about 1 lb): 393 calories, 0.45g fat, $.75
4 radishes with greens: 30 calories, 0g fat, $.65
1 small turnip: 39 calories, 0g fat, $0.37
1 large carrot (about 7 oz): 72 calories, 0g fat, $0.28
1 large vegetable bullion cubes: 20 calories, 0.65g fat, $0.30
1 tbsp curry powder: negligible calories and fat, $0.10
1 tbsp brown sugar (to taste): 52 cal, 0g fat, $0.04
Salt and fresh black pepper to taste: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
Totals: 606 calories, 1.1g fat, $2.51
Per Serving: 101 calories, 0.18g fat, $0.41


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