Here is an elegant change-of-season soup to help prepare our bodies for the colder days and longer nights of autumn. It delivers a hefty dose of beta-carotene and stimulates our taste buds with the warming properties and flavors of ginger, garlic, and onion, an unbeatable combination alongside the sweetness of carrots and apple.
Colorful, nourishing, and luscious, this soup can turn your soup-bowl into an early-autumn feast for the senses.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups good-quality vegetable stock
8 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 tart apple (Granny Smith is good), peeled and coarsely chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup half-and half
1/4 cup dry sherry
Salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
Thyme sprigs or finely chopped fresh chives, optional garnish
1. In a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and then add the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Reduce the heat to low and add the ginger and garlic, stirring constantly for a minute.
2. Stir in the stock, carrots, apple, thyme, and bay leaf. Raise heat to bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce it again, cover, and cook about 20 minutes, until carrots are very tender.
3. Remove and discard thyme sprig and bay leaf and allow the soup to cool a few minutes. Puree the soup in a blender in batches until smooth, then return it to the pot. Add half-and-half, sherry, and salt and pepper. Warm the soup, stirring constantly, without allowing it to boil.
4. Ladle into individual bowls and garnish with a sprig of thyme or a sprinkling of chives, if you like.
Inspired by The Spirited Vegetarian, by Paulette Mitchell (Rodale Press, 2005).