No fuss side: Cold carrot soup

Thanksgiving is just starting to peek over the horizon. At this time, most of us are finalizing our guest list, agonizing over our menu or deciding what special dish we can bring to pass. Every year, it always works out fine and part of that is because we put so much of ourselves into making it happen properly.

Unlike other holidays during the year, Thanksgiving seems to always be about the side dishes. Yes, the turkey takes center stage, but all Thanksgiving tables are laden with multiple and unique side dishes. The side dishes generally tend to be the same every year. For some of us, it may be the only time we eat these dishes. Sure, we like, (or love), these dishes, but for some reason Thanksgiving is the only time we bring out these recipes.

For me, part of the love of cooking is always cooking something new. Whenever I’m cooking dinner, I always try to add at least one new twist, ingredient or recipe. Often times, I’m cooking entirely new dishes, loving those dishes, but then not making them again for a long time because there are so many other new dishes to try.

I always give my readers some new flavors to try, new combinations to enjoy or just plain ol’ advice on how to make existing recipes better. I ran into one of my readers recently and she told me that a recipe I had printed many months ago was truly spectacular. What she did was combine part of my recipe with part of her recipe and fell in love with the results. That was tremendously pleasing. Maybe I will ask her if we can publish her recipe, what do you think? This is what my column is all about – learning and adapting.

One of the things that’s important about side dishes for Thanksgiving is the ability to make these dishes around the chaos that exists in the kitchen. When we remove our turkey from the oven we can have as much as 30 minutes before the meat needs to go on the table. During those 30 minutes there are dinner rolls to heat, potatoes to keep warm and more. Here’s a recipe that will help you avoid the rush, since it’s served cold. Feel free to make this a couple of days ahead.

Cold Carrot Ginger Soup

Yield about 8 servings

2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil

1 medium Vidalia onion, small dice

½ tsp salt

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 Tbl fresh ginger, minced

2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped

1 medium Idaho potato, peeled and chopped

1 quart chicken stock

1 cup plain yogurt

1 tsp fresh thyme

a few grinds of your pepper mill

chives for garnish

sour cream for garnish

In your soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the onions and salt. Sweat onions until fully cooked and slightly caramelized, about 12 to 13 minutes. Add garlic and ginger, and cook while stirring for 1½ to 2 more minutes, be careful not to brown the garlic.

While the onions are cooking, heat your chicken stock in a separate pot. When onion mixture is ready, add the hot stock, carrots and potato. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook until potatoes and carrots are very tender.

Using an immersion blender or your food processor, purée your soup until all lumps have been smoothed out. Adjust your seasonings of salt and pepper. Refrigerate soup overnight for service the next day.

Mix yogurt, thyme and fresh ground pepper in a bowl. Stir into your soup. Ladle into the bowls, garnishing with chives and/or sour cream. Serve and enjoy.

This soup may be frozen for up to 2 or 3 months, depending on how well you seal your freezer packages. Do not freeze any foods that are not already at refrigerator temperatures.

Look for Chef Darrel’s blog on the website of our sister paper, Anyone with questions or comments for Chef Darrel is welcome to call him at 630-235-0672.

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