Gingerly July 25, 2010
I love ginger. I love it candied, sweet and fibrous, wrapped in a firm shell of dark chocolate. I love it in a damp, dark gingerbread hotcake, with apple and sabayon. I love it hot and tangy in a dinner of braised lamb with black bean. I’ll drink it in tea, bake it into sticky, fragrant muffins and sprinkle it on chai. Swept away by my all-consuming passion, I decided I could make a heavenly dessert of ginger and dark chocolate mousse. To keep a long and disappointing story brief, I could not. Amalgamating incompatible recipes and being cavalier with custard led to an overly light, fluffy and not-set-enough mousse which, even for a ginger lover, was like being slapped in the face with a whole hand of it. The chocolate had somehow disappeared and….. oh I could go on and on.
The most disappointing part really has to do with the eggs. I’d squandered five large brown eggs, the equivalent of five days work for Agnes. To make matters worse, Betty, our black silkie, has decided to go broody and has given up laying in order to snatch the others’ eggs and hunker down on them possessively. Mrs P, our peculiar Polish hen, has gone off the lay, or is hiding her brilliantly white eggs somewhere very clever. Lola, our white silkie, is laying sporadically but I suspect she is distracted by Betty’s behaviour. Hopefully she won’t go broody too. We’ve already had to find an emergency half-dozen fertilized eggs for Betty. It seemed far too cruel to let her sit there for weeks, waiting for chicks to appear beneath her. I do worry for the chicks though. Despite all reassurances from my poultry sources, I suspect a hen that took several weeks to work out how to get in or out of her house may not make the best parent.
Anyhow, until supplies are up, baking is off. But we still have to eat and I have ginger on my mind and, conveniently, on the kitchen bench. So, rather than heavenly mousse, what follows is heavenly soup. This soup is my favourite. It’s easy and quick, warming and cheap. The heat from the ginger is offset by the sweetness of the carrots and honey. At this time of year in our house, it is made about once a week, served up with a handful of parsley and a hunk of crunchy, buttery toast.
Carrot & Ginger Soup
1kg of carrots, peeled & chopped roughly
1 red onion, chopped none too finely
1 chunk of ginger, to taste, generally about a 5cm piece – chopped a little more finely than the onion
1 litre of vegetable stock (I use Massel ultra stock cubes)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 spoonful of honey, as generous as you like
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and ginger, stirring for 4-5 minutes, until softened and fragrant.
Add the carrots and stock. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to low-medium and simmer gently for 25-30 minutes, until the carrots are tender.
Puree – I do this in a bench-top blender, but only because I don’t have a stick blender (competing with small flan tins for top spot on my kitchen wish-list).
Bring to a simmer again, stir through the honey, then serve with or without parsley.