Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Carrot-Ginger Soup with Coconut-Roasted Shrimp

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In the past few weeks, I've really been trying to branch out with my cooking. What is my extensive, elaborate, borderline-obsessive cookbook collection worth, otherwise? I've included a few new recipes in my menu for the next two weeks, and I'm hoping that I'll stick to my guns and actually make them. I must admit that the problem tends to be my confidence level-Rachael Ray recipes are so comfortingly simple and unfussy, and they always turn out exactly how I imagined. Thus, I struggle when facing a recipe that might be a bit more complicated.

Now, this particular dish certainly does not fall into the "difficult" or "challenging" category, so I don't know how proud I can be of myself. It was actually a breeze to put together, despite having two separate preparations, for the shrimp and soup. It's been raining for days here, which I don't find entirely unpleasant, but the constant drizzle has motivated me to cook the appropriately warm and satisfying meals. I was quite pleased with the results of this one-the bright orange soup was creamy and delicately Asian-flavored, with hints of the sesame oil mingling perfectly with the carrots and ginger. The shrimp was a lovely accompaniment-spicy and crisp, the bits of toasted coconut blended in a most satisfying way with the soup.

If my husband and I had not devoured an heavenly box of these Mushroom Turnovers first, I think we might have been a bit hungry with just the soup and shrimp. I would advise 4-5 shrimp per person and serving a green salad or perhaps warm slices of a French baguette on the side for a more complete meal. It's not especially heavy-just a bit of oil is needed, and it calls for light coconut milk and skim milk. I used 2%. I cannot abide skim milk. It looks like appalling gray water to me, and I shall never go below 1%. Ever.

I shall now share the recipe, without meandering on into a dairy-inspired post. Sorry about that diatribe!

Carrot-Ginger Soup with Coconut-Roasted Shrimp
from Food and Wine: an entire year of Recipes, 2006

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
4 large carrots (3/4 pound), chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter (We have a jar of PB that we KNOW is untainted, so I've continued to use it! Please, peanut butter crisis, be over soon!)
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup light coconut milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 large shrimp, shelled (Purchase accordingly for how many people are eating and how substantial you want the meal to be.)
1 1/2 tablespoons shredded coconut (I managed to find unsweetened, on sale, in the bulk containers at Whole Foods-by the way, this really is enough coconut!)
Pinch of cayenne pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the carrots, ginger, and crushed red pepper and cook for 6 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil, then simmer until the carrots are very tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, peanut butter, and sesame oil.
2. In a blender, puree the soup until smooth. Return it to the saucepan and stir in the skim milk and coconut milk. Season the carrot-ginger soup with salt and black pepper and keep warm.
3. Toss the shrimp with the coconut, cayenne and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then season with salt and black pepper. Spread the shrimp on a parchment-lined (I used foil.) baking sheet and roast for 8 minutes, or until they are pink. Ladle the carrot-ginger soup into warmed bowls and garnish with the coconut shrimp.

I'm going to eat the leftovers for lunch now! Ah, carrot soup!

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