Well hey! I admit I may have left some people hanging after that last post. Something about big news, exciting things coming our way, etc. I’m happy to tell you, Internet, that there’s going to be a new member of the Wooden Spoon Society soon; a little baby on his way in early June-ish.
Are we thrilled? Obviously. Are we amazed? Yes. Am I relieved that the first trimester is over? DEAR GOD YES. I’m safely nestled in the notoriously glorious 2nd trimester, about 3 weeks from the loin-girding “home stretch” of the 3rd.
Something that happens when you are expecting a child is the question, from very nice people, daily: “HOW ARE YOU FEEEEEELING?!?!!!??” And I’m happy (and maybe a little relieved?) that for the most part my truthful answers have been rather positive. I have not yet once clutched a toilet bowl or craved foods that would make me a social outcast. But: the first trimester saw me opening refrigerator and cabinet doors each day with a pout – nothing I normally loved sounded good, and all the things I had long deemed mere snacks, “for children,” came floating across my vision in a new, shining light. Cereal, chocolate milk, sweetened creamy oatmeal, ice cream… if it was any combination of cold, sweet and/or creamy, all was well.
Obviously, this is no way to grow a human.
At a certain point – maybe into the 2nd month? – something snapped. Or clicked. I don’t know if I simply couldn’t stand my mono-diet anymore, or if I was suddenly imbued with a fierce pregnant warrior bravery that demanded I quit being such a baby and eat some real food. For my actual baby.
So one fall afternoon I took to Google to find a recipe that sounded safe (i.e. not barfy) and could help restore balance and micronutrients to my system. I happened upon a suspiciously, ridiculously simple looking recipe from Bon Appetit: carrot coconut soup. The flavors were vaguely Thai, but I could count the primary ingredients on one hand, and all of them sounded nice at the moment – a cause for celebration.
I also credit this soup with helping me get back on the kitchen wagon. The first time I made it, I did so exactly to the letter. This resulted in probably the kind of soup I needed at the moment: nutritious, gentle on my system, and flavorful without being overwhelming. The next time I made it, I aimed for something equally simple, but with a little bit more character. So I added a whole lot more chili sauce and a bunch of freshly squeezed lemon juice, but left everything else somewhat similar to the original version. Since then, I’ve swapped out coconut oil for the butter, done a bit of both, and also let the onions get really nicely colored (accidentally, then on purpose).
I imagine this is an excellent soup for sensitive but easily-bored tummies, those with colds who crave something creamy but need to avoid dairy (when you swap the butter for oil), and even kids to whom you’re introducing the fun element of heat and spice. It’s a breeze to put together and freezes nicely.
And speaking of kids – because this is how I think these days – it’s a fun recipe to get their help with, due to its small and simple ingredient list, and the fact that precision chopping is totally unnecessary, since you’re pureeing the bejesus out of it anyway.
Carrot Coconut Soup (adapted from Bon Appetit)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, or 1/2 stick butter and 4 tablespoons coconut oil (or all coconut oil, if you like)
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 onions, chopped
- 4 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
- 2 cans (13.5 oz each) unsweetened coconut milk – fat content is up to you
- 6-8 tablespoons Thai-stye chili sauce
- salt, to taste
- white pepper, if available, to taste – or black pepper
- fresh lemon or lime
- For serving: cilantro, more chili sauce, lime wedges, chopped green onions (all optional, all to taste)
Over medium-high heat, melt the butter in a large soup pot (not too tall – not a stockpot). Add the onion. Stir occasionally for 5-7 minutes, until they start to brown a bit. Add the carrot, also stirring occasionally, and cook those down for about 20 minutes. (A little color on the carrots is fine – again, this will be pureed into oblivion so cosmetic concerns should be dismissed.) Add the broth, coconut milk, and chili sauce. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, give a stir, and let simmer uncovered for about 40-50 minutes, stirring once in a while. The carrots should be quite soft, and the liquid should have reduced a bit.
If you have an immersion blender, this just got easier. If you have a regular blender, it’s still OK. Turn off the heat and, if you’re using an immersion blender, puree extensively. You want zero bits. (Or, at least I like zero bits.) If you’re using a regular blender, turn off the heat, and ladle the soup slowly and carefully in batches into the blender to puree.
You can thin out the resulting soup if you like, though I have not found this to be necessary when I’ve made it. You will likely get a creamy-looking, but not too claggy or rich, soup that is ready for action. But do you. Once the soup is at a consistency you like, and back in the pot, add salt and pepper to taste, and finish with fresh lemon or lime juice. This adds a necessary top note, in my opinion. Garnish with cilantro, more chili sauce, lime wedges, and/or chopped green onions.