I love to find a recipe that I would never have come up with myself. This is a perfect example. I found this in the new printing of the original cookbook from the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, NY. Moosewood is an institution. It has been there for longer than most restaurants even dream of being in existence and it is completely vegetarian, as are all of the cookbooks. They celebrate vegetables, grains, and even dairy and eggs, but not meat.
Now don't get me wrong here. I love meat. I love meat almost as much as I love cake. But I also know that meat is often treated with hormones and antibiotics, which I'm not wild about putting in my body, and it is expensive to get meat that isn't treated. We resort to some egg meals like quiche or frittata, but sometimes it is nice to have some good vegetarian options that stand all on their own. This is one of those. It is actually a vegan recipe, lactose and gluten free. What is in it, you may ask. All good things. Fresh carrots and ginger, toasted cashews, and a combination of spices that I would never have devised.
This soup is a nutritional powerhouse too. Enough beta carotene to make your head spin (night vision, anyone?) and protein and good fat from the cashews. This is a great option for a dinner on a cool night with a hearty salad to fill in the rest of your nutrients. (Or just go ahead and add a big crusty loaf of bread!) This soup is fine served cool, but I think the heat really brings out the nuttiness of the cashews. It is so smooth and rich in flavor, you would never know that there is no cream in this soup. In fact, the cashews somehow both thicken the soup and give it an incredible lightness at the same time. The result is sublime.
This soup also became a loyal lunchtime companion. It thickened up a bit in the fridge, but just a little water before I microwaved it at work made it just as good as when I first made it.
Carrot Ginger Soup with Cashews (adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook)
The spices in this recipe are vital to the flavor. Don't depend on the allspice that you bought in the mid-nineties. The Lexington Co-op and many other health-food type shops sell spices in bulk. Get only as much as you need.
2 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 cups water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon dried mint*
3-4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup toasted cashews
Place the carrots in a medium saucepan and add the water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook until the carrots are very tender (10-15 minutes)
Heat the olive oil in a small fry pan. Add onion and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add ginger, garlic, salt, and spices. Lower the heat and continue to saute for another 8-10 minutes, until the onions are soft. Stir in lemon juice.
Combine the spice-onion mixture with the carrots and the cashews. Use a blender to puree the mixture until smooth.
* I couldn't find dried mint in bulk so I opened a mint tea bag and used the contents. Brilliant, I thought!