January makes sense as holder of the National Soup Month designation — even if we weren’t shivering through an exceptionally cold January here in Piedmont North Carolina this year. Days are short, and the nights are long. Those shiny piles of crisp rainbow-colored produce are months away, and the urge to curl up with a good book or work that puzzle or crossword makes low-and-slow cooking a most appealing prospect.
We’ve already had nights where the temperature dropped to zero: ZERO!!! My friends in Minnesota and Colorado and parts of Canada will roll their eyes at my reaction to their standard winter weather, but for me here in Piedmont North Carolina, it’s an extraordinary time. Soup doesn’t change anything outside, or move the calendar along any faster toward summertime heat; but it brings comfort, satisfaction, and pleasure to our table. So many possibilities, and so much goodness for a little up-front prep time.
I love carrots, raw and cooked, and keep them on hand throughout the winter. Their grown-up sweetness and radiant color enhance this simple soup, which is vegan and gluten free. It’s rich and creamy thanks to the coconut milk and the natural texture of the carrots, apple, and onion from which it is made. I love hot curry powders but you could use a milder one with delicious results. Pair this golden soup with grilled cheese sandwiches or Texas toast, and a salad of arugula tossed with chopped apple, raisins, and pecans in a apple-cider vinaigrette.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped green or red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 pound carrots, to make 4 cups trimmed and coarsely chopped carrots
- 1 small apple, cored and cut into large chunks, to make 1 cup
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (1 fifteen-ounce can)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until a bit of onion sizzles at once.
- Add onion and green pepper and cook, tossing often, until fragrant and shiny, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the fresh ginger and the curry powder, toss well, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the carrots, apple, and water, and increase heat to medium high. Bring to a rolling boil.
- Add coconut milk and salt and cook, stirring now and then, until vegetables are tende, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove from heat and puree to a thick, smooth, creamy soup, using a blender, a food processor, or an immersion blender, or a hand-held vegetable masher.
- (For blender or food processor, work in batches and cover lid with a kitchen towel to avoid splatters.)
- Taste and adjust salt if needed.
- Return smooth soup to cooking pot and heat through.
- To serve, transfer to serving bowl or serve from the stove, garnishing with chopped parsley.