Thursday, July 8, 2010
The carrot is one of the most common vegetables out there - and as it happens, it is also one of the biggest nutritional powerhouses as well. The most common conception about carrots is that they are excellent for eyesight (which is why rabbits don't wear glasses, so the joke goes). This is because of the high vitamin A content - over 20,000 IUs per cup! (The most prevalent form found in carrots is, appropriately enough, beta carotene, and the optimal daily dose of vitamin A in this form is 25,000 IUs.) It's because of this vitamin A content that, aside from supporting vision, carrots can also support growth and bone development in children; optimize immune responses to bacteria, viruses, and parasites; support reproductive processes; and even may be used to aid in the treatment of cancer. Incidentally, carrots also contain significant amounts of folic acid, vitamin C (only when raw), vitamin B6, vitamin K, potassium, and fiber.
Carrots are often juiced as well, which makes for a more potent blast of nutrients and enzymes than when eaten alone. However, as a juice, carrots also provide a high dose of sugar that's easily absorbed by the body and can cause a sugar spike and crash. Because of this, I don't recommend carrot juice alone for diabetics or those at risk for diabetes. Unjuiced carrots, because of their high fiber content, are better.
So here is the recipe for carrot soup, taken from Mollie Katzen's New Moosewood Cookbook, one of the classic vegetarian cookbooks of all time. Be generous with the herbs. For a light dinner, enjoy the soup on a chilly evening with freshly-baked or warmed bread and butter. Or spoon it on top of pasta. It's even better the next day, once the herbs have had a chance to infuse the soup more.
2 pounds peeled or scrubbed, chopped carrots
4 cups stock or water
1 medium potato, chopped
1-2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped onion
1-2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp marjoram or oregano
1 tsp basil
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
Place carrots, water and potato into a medium sized soup pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes, until tender.
Meanwhile, sauté the onion in the butter/oil and salt until the onions are clear, about 5-10 minutes. Add the thyme, basil, and marjoram/oregano, and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and garlic, and sauté a few minutes more.
Puree everything together in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Enjoy!