Down the Rabbit Hole – Carrot Soup

I’m sorry it’s been almost the entire weekend and I haven’t been able to post. My three faithful readers must be wondering what I’ve been up to. I was distracted by the 55 degree weather in February and the 80’s night at the Alchemist Lounge. It’s amazing that The Breakfast Club still holds up, even when you can’t hear the dialogue and you’re in a crowded bar. Now I’ll focus and return to the main reason for this post.

Sometimes I crave a color more than a food. It might be green, or in this case, orange. I discovered this soup when it was first published last Spring, in La Cucina Italiana, one of my regular magazine subscriptions. I’ve made it several times since then, with slight variations. This latest variation was really delicious. This makes a hearty and sweet soup with great depth of flavor. Every time I serve it, it’s a revelation all over again.

This recipe is adapted from one published in La Cucina Italiana March/April 2009 issue.

Spiced Carrot Shrimp Soup
4 generous servings, with leftovers
2 Tbsp. green cardamom pods
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion
2-3 lbs. carrots
3 cups vegetable stock
white rice (as much as you like, although I recommend at least 1 cup)
1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 bay leaves
1 lb. whole shrimp, thawed
1 cup long-grain white rice

special equipment: cheesecloth, kitchen string

1. Tie cardamom in cheesecloth to make a little pouch.
2. Peel carrots and cut into small pieces 2-3 inches long. Coarsely chop onion.
3. Cook rice in rice cooker or pot with water, 1/4 of chopped onion, butter and bay leaf.
4. Rinse and peel shrimp, saving shells.
5. Add shrimp shells to medium saucepan.
6. Cover shrimp shells with 2 quarts water and salt well. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer.

7. Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add cardamom bundle. Stir for 1 minute.
8. Add pinch of salt and onion. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 3 minutes.
9. Add carrots and stir to coat. Cook 1 minute.
1o. Add vegetable broth.

11. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook about 15 minutes.
12. Strain shrimp shells and add shrimp broth to soup pot.
13. Continue cooking carrots at a gentle simmer until soft, about another 10 minutes.
14. Remove cardamom bundle from soup.
15. Puree soup with immersion blender or in traditional blender. Puree to desired smoothness. I like to leave it a little chunky.

16. Add shrimp to soup.
17. Continue to simmer until shrimp are cooked, another 3-4 minutes.
18. Season to taste.
19. Remove bay leaves from rice.
20. Serve soup topped with generous servings of rice.



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