Sep 19, 2008

Jamaican Carrot Soup with Pear Relish

This soup is just the kind of thing for this almost-fall in between time we find ourselves in now. Temperatures are beginning to consider being more moderate – at least here in Austin – but it's not really cool yet. But that doesn't mean we're not craving everything fall. Dry leaves shaking in the breeze, chilly dark mornings, the sound of football on tv in the background and one day... sleeves! I don't know about you, but I could use some of that. It's like a big sigh of relief after the intensity of the summer sun.

This soup will feed your fall-starved appetite without weighing you down. The natural sweetness of the carrots is enhanced by tropical chiles and lots of spices...nutmeg, ginger and allspice. Top if off with a very quick pear relish and it rocks. Don't even think of making this soup without the relish. The relish is what takes it beyond. Beeeeeyond. I've been making this soup for years and it always still surprises me how really, really good it is.

I think this recipe actually appeared in a Food & Wine Thanksgiving issue and it would make the perfect Thanksgiving or fall meal starter. But it's also a great light lunch with hearty bread smeared with goat cheese or some plantain chips.

Make the relish and chill it before serving. The contrast of the cold, fresh, juicy pears with the sweet spicy heat of the soup is what you're going for.

Jamaican Carrot Soup with Pear Relish

For the soup:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds carrots, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
4 large scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 - 1/2 Habanero pepper (or jalapeño), seeds removed, diced
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 cups chicken stock
1 small potato, peeled and sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

In a stockpot or deep soup pot, melt the butter and cook the carrots and onions until very soft, about 30 minutes.

Add the scallions, chiles, soy, thyme and spices and stir until you smell the spices, several minutes.

Add the chicken stock, potato and bay leaf. Bring up to a boil and then cover the pan and simmer for about half an hour until the potato is tender.

Remove the soup from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Using a stick blender (or in small batches in a regular blender), purée the soup.

Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

For the pear relish:
4 firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into a 1/2-inch dice
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Toss the pears with the lemon juice. Then add the other ingredients and toss together. Chill before serving.

Serve the soup hot with a generous scoop of the cold pear relish in the center.

Serves approximately 8 as an appetizer.

Adapted from Food & Wine, November 2000


sarah j. gim said...

i just bought a habanero at the market bc it was so pretty but had not a clue what to do with such a piece of fire - now i do! funny that i'm going to make something because i have one small ingredient :D

Merry said...

It does sound just right for about now. Kind of test run for a soupy winter :-)