April 1, 2018

Carrot Stew | Miscellaneous

          This recipe began randomly from having leftover carrots and such from other recipes. I thought I'd come up with something on the fly (haha, i.e. a "kitchen experiment" as I like to call it) and I found it so delicious! (I called it soup at the time, but with the addition of chunks of vegetables...it became a stew! Haha, semantics, really). I've since adjusted things and added ingredients and I think this stew is so pretty and tasty (it makes me think of Springtime, though it's color is certainly Fall-ish). I simply wanted to share it with you.  :)
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          As far as fiction food is concerned, it makes me think of one of my favorite picture books as a kid, The Tawny Scrawny Lion, and the soup that the rabbits make. They add in fish and mushrooms, and you can too if you'd like (fish at the end and mushrooms at the beginning). ;)  I also think of the carrot stew from "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild", and with the subtraction of a few ingredients and the addition of milk or cream, this soup would fit perfectly. There's also the thick carrot soup that was served on the train in The Hunger Games. Again, some of the vegetables could be omitted and everything blended up at the end to make a thick, smooth soup (which is actually the state this recipe started in). :)
          Do you know of other carrot soups or stews from fiction? I'd love to know!
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Note: This recipe has evolved into a hearty stew, but you can omit several of the ingredients to simplify it back to how it started. Celery, ginger, green beans w/ baking soda; all of these can be omitted, and the broth can be swapped out for straight up water if you like. Of course this will change the flavors, but it's a versatile soup, so you can add spices that you like. You can even add milk or cream at the end if you'd like it more creamy and lighter in color.

Carrot Stew

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 Garlic Clove, sliced
1 tsp. Fresh Grated Ginger
5 lrg. Carrots, peeled & chopped into big bite-size pieces
2 Parsnips, peeled & chopped into big bite-size pieces
2 Celery Stalks, chopped ~1/2" pieces
2 Dried Bay Leaves
4 Cups Broth or Stock (Vegetable or Chicken, or substitute in water)
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Pepper
1/2 Cup Green Beans/String Beans, ends removed & cut ~1" long.
1/8 tsp. Baking Soda

Directions:
Melt the butter in a large pot & sauté the garlic & onions until tender. Stir in the ginger & cook a couple minutes longer.

Stir in the carrots, parsnips, & celery, & then pour in the broth. Put the bay leaves on top & bring to a boil. Let boil for a couple of minutes, stirring, & then turn down to low to simmer, & cover. Cook for about 30 minutes or more, until the carrots are fork tender.

In the meantime, put the cut green beans in a separate small pot & cover with water. Stir in the baking soda & bring to a boil. Cook until the beans are just tender & still bright green. Drain & set aside in a large bowl.

Discard the bay leaves from the big pot. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the parsnips, celery, & 1/3 or so of the carrots (how ever many carrot chunks you'd like floating around in your stew) & put them in the bowl with the beans.

Blend the remaining broth & carrots chunks (& onions & garlic) either with an immersion blender in the pot, or in a standing blender in batches, making sure to hold a towel over the blender instead of putting the lid on (so steam can release). Add in a Tbsp. or so of olive oil while blending to help emulsify. Blend for several minutes to make the soup smooth & creamy. Blend in salt & pepper to taste.
*Note: Feel free to reserve some of the broth before blending (like, only blend 1/2 of the liquid) & then stir the blended mixture with the reserved liquid to make a thinner stew. You can also thin the stew out with more broth or water or milk (nut milk is fine).

Pour the blended soup back into the pot or into a large pitcher, & stir in all of the vegetables. Now it's ready! Serve with rustic bread, or make your own croutons (how-to below). You can also garnish with fresh parsley or dill.

Homemade Croutons

Heat your oven to 325ºF. Smear a very little bit of olive oil onto a baking tray.

Chop 3-4 slices of white bread (I like to use sourdough) into cubes the size you'd like to eat & place them in a large plastic ziplock baggie or a bowl with a lid (I prefer the latter).

Pour 1 tsp. of olive per bread slice (so, 3-4 tsp.) over the bread cubes. Add in 2 tsp. or so (to taste) of a garlic-y seasoning (I like to use Famous Dave's) that has salt & dried herbs like parsley–whatever suits your tastes.

Close the baggie or cover the bowl & shake & toss to coat the bread cubes very well. Spread the coated bread cubes out on the baking tray in a single layer & bake for about 10 minutes or so, until dry & crispy & golden. Serve on top of soup/stew, or in salads!

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