Imagine how you would feel if you were a farmer and a perfectly edible, sizable amount of your crop was being cast aside each year because it was deemed to “ugly” to sell.
In the early 1980s, that was the case for California carrot farmer Mike Yurosek. The story goes that at that time Yurosek was faced with the fact that folks buying his carrots were rejecting the ones that weren’t the ideal size and/or shape to sell in supermarkets.
To stop that from occurring, Yurosek came up with a clever idea. He decided to run those rejected carrots through an industrial bean cutter, shaping them into smaller, more evenly sized vegetables that became known as “baby carrots.”
With no peeling required, baby carrots were a big hit with consumers. And not long after, other carrot producers began making them to help meet the ever-growing demand.
Despite their popularity, according to an article on baby carrots by registered dietitian Toby Amidor on foodnetwork.com, some consumers have shown a concern about the before-sale rinsing/cleaning process of those baby carrots, especially when chlorine is used. But Amidor writes that carrots are grown in dirt and the amount of chlorine used when giving those carrots a gentle wash is less than what is present in everyday tap drinking water. And, she adds, before being dried and bagged, the baby carrots are thoroughly rinsed to remove any excess chlorine. This process is also commonly used with other types of fresh-cut produce.
I don’t use baby carrots very often, most often picking up a bag of them when I feel like making a pot of tasty carrot soup that does not require a lot of preparation. That was the case with today’s recipe, which you begin making by putting baby carrots, chopped onion and ginger, stock, coconut milk and seasonings in a pot. You then simmer the mixture until the baby carrots are tender, and then blend it into a silky soup you can accent with chopped cilantro or parsley and toasted almonds.
Baby Carrot Soup with Fresh Ginger and Spice
This is a flavourful, easy-to-make carrot soup rich with fresh ginger, spices and coconut milk.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: about 30 minutes
Makes: four to six servings
3 1/4 cups vegetable or chicken stock, plus more, if needed
1 cup water
1 (400 mL) can coconut milk
1 (1 pound) bag baby carrots
1 1/2 cups peeled, cubed yellow-fleshed potato (see Note 1)
1 cup diced onion
3 Tbsp coarsely chopped, peeled fresh ginger
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 cinnamon stick, broken into three pieces
• salt and ground white pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley, or to taste (optional)
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds, or to taste (optional; see Note 2)
Place stock, water, coconut milk, carrots, potato, onion, ginger, bay leaf, coriander and cinnamon stick in a medium pot. Set pot over medium-high and bring to a gentle simmer, lowering heat as needed to maintain that gentle simmer. Simmer soup until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and pieces of cinnamon stick from the soup. Now puree the soup in a food processor or blender, or in the pot with an immersion (hand) blender. Set the soup back on the heat, return to a simmer, and then taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Mix in the cilantro (or parsley), if using. Ladle soup into bowls and, if desired, top each serving with some toasted almonds.
Note 1: One very large, or two small to medium, yellow-fleshed potatoes should yield the cubed amount needed here.
Note 2: To toast almonds, place them in a skillet and set over medium heat. Cook almonds, swirling the pan occasionally, until lightly toasted, about five minutes. Remove from the heat.
Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.