SOUP

This spicy soup tickles the taste buds and pleases the palate.

karyosmond.com

Blended soups are perfect when it's cold outside. And I especially love soups with a hint of spice to tickle the throat. Not only is this soup simple to make, but it also freezes well, kids love it, and it goes well with one of my favorite foods: toast! Best of all, if you have a bunch of carrots in your fridge, this is a great way to use them up.

When experimenting with Thai recipes your goal is to achieve a balance between sweet, sour, spicy and salty. The sweet in this recipe comes from two ingredients: coconut milk and carrots. The sour comes from lime juice (not only does it add a sour note, it also adds a delicate lime fragrance). The spice is added through the red Thai curry paste. The saltiness in Thai food usually comes from fish sauce, but because I'm keeping this recipe plant-based, I'm using soy sauce instead.

To tickle your nose, I've added something special: star anise. Though it's not essential, I do recommend it for the sweet fragrance; just be sure to remove it before you blend the soup.

Thai Carrot Soup

Serves 4 to 5

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

4 cups coined carrots, about 4 to 5 carrots

1 1/2 cups diced onion

1 tablespoon chopped ginger

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon red Thai curry paste

2 cups vegetable stock or water

1 cup coconut milk

1/2 star anise (optional)

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons sugar (optional)

1/2 lime, juiced

1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add oil, carrots, onion, ginger, garlic and curry paste. Cook covered, and stir often until onions have started to soften, about 5 minutes.

2. Add vegetable stock or water, coconut milk and star anise (if using). Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 35 to 45 minutes.

3. Allow soup to cool slightly, remove star anise, and blend using hand blender until smooth. If soup is too thick, add water, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired consistency. Season with soy sauce and sugar. Garnish with lime juice.

Thai carrot soup tips:

--The sweeter your carrots, the sweeter this soup will be. If your carrots are lacking in that department, you can bump up the sweetness at the end with a little sugar; just a touch will do.

--Cook the carrots until you can mash them with the back of a fork, this will make for a smooth soup.

--All Thai curry pastes are all different, with different heat levels. My suggestion is to start this recipe with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of curry paste. If you find you want more flavor and heat, you can always add more. If you want even more spice, add some chopped red Thai chili. But be careful; those tiny chilies pack a lot of heat.

--The flavor of lime will dissipate with heat, so add it just before you serve it.

--If you don't have a hand blender, you can use a food processor or traditional blender. Cool the soup first; then blend it in batches until smooth, adding water if necessary.

(Kary Osmond is a Canadian recipe developer and former television host of the popular daytime cooking show "Best Recipes Ever." Her easy recipes include helpful tips to guide you along the way, and her love of plant-based cooking offers healthy alternatives to some of your favorite dishes. Learn more at www.karyosmond.com.)

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