Carol Egbert: Carrot Falafel & Carrot Soup
The snow is lovely, the air is crisp — very crisp — and carrots have replaced the fresh, local leafy green vegetables that fill my fridge in the warmer months. The golden glow of the fire in the woodstove matched the warm orange of the carrot soup and carrot falafel that I made last week.
The Moors brought carrots, cousin of both Queen Anne’s lace and parsnips, to Europe from Asia in the 10th century. With more natural sugar than any other vegetable except beets, carrots are rich in carotene, which improves night vision, and are renowned as an anti-wrinkle agent.
According to some food historians, carrots originated in Afghanistan, which was enough of a reason to make falafel with carrots as the primary ingredient. Tahini sauce added a taste of the Middle East to our dinner. Here’s how I did it:
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups carrots, coarsely grated — divided
1 Tablespoon water
1 19-ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
I sauteed the onion in the butter over medium heat until it was soft and beginning to brown. While the onions cooked, I zapped one cup of the carrots with a tablespoon of water in the microwave until the carrots were soft; it took three minutes in my microwave.
I drained the cooked carrots and put them, along with the chickpeas, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt into a food processor and pulsed the machine. When the chickpeas were coarsely chopped, I combined the chickpea mixture with the remaining cup of raw carrots and the cooked onions. I formed heaping tablespoonfuls of the mixture into patties and rolled them in breadcrumbs. I heated a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and cooked the patties in batches until golden brown, about four minutes on each side. I served these carrot falafels with a simple sauce made by combining the tahini with the lemon juice and enough water to make a sauce with the consistency of mayonnaise.
Carrot soup brightened with ginger and topped with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of dill weed helped chase a winter cold. Here’s how I made it:
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 cup water
1 vegetarian bouillon cube
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
extra yogurt or sour cream and dried dill for garnish
I began by sauteeing the onion and celery with the butter in a medium pot. When the onion was translucent, I added the carrots, ginger and potato, and sauteed the vegetables for five minutes more before I added one cup of water. When the water came to a boil I reduced the heat and simmered the mixture it until the vegetables were soft; it took about 20 minutes.
To enhance the flavor, I added a bouillon cube, dried thyme, cayenne pepper, the milk and yogurt. I stirred it over low heat until the bouillon cube had dissolved and the soup was steaming but not boiling.
I used an immersion blender to puree the soup, but a conventional blender, a food processor, or a food mill will also work. I served it topped with a tablespoon of yogurt and a sprinkle of dried dill.
This is a flexible recipe; you can substitute dill for thyme, sour cream for yogurt, use vegetable stock instead of water and the bouillon cube. A teaspoon of dried ginger can be substituted for the fresh ginger. This soup needs a bit of fat, so resist the urge to substitute low-fat or skimmed milk for the whole milk. Carrot soup is a terrific gift for a friend battling the flu.
Carol Egbert lives in Quechee, where she paints and cooks. Her food blog can be found at www.carolegbert.com.