Monday, June 27, 2016

Cream of Carrot & Tomato Soup

Image: Goodreads
June was a good reading month. For several weeks, I had not been able to find a book to really sink my teeth into. But then I found these two novels back to back, both engrossing family dramas but with very different settings. 

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler is set in Baltimore and tells the story of four generations of the Whitshank family- a rather ordinary family whose life revolves around a big, lovingly built house. I've read a few of Anne Tyler's novels- she's been writing for decades- and just like the others, this one has no strong linear plot. It is a study of characters and family dynamics, all the big and little incidents that shape the trajectory of a life. 

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese is set mainly in a small mission hospital in Ethiopian but follows the characters from India to Africa to North America. Verghese is a physician-novelist and tells the story of twin boys born to an Indian nun and a British doctor. This novel has intertwining themes of an unusual family story and gripping medical narratives against a roiling political backdrop. 

Speaking of Ethiopia, I haven't been accepting any cookbooks for review lately but made an exception for this one- Ethiopian Cookbook: Pinnacle of Traditional Cuisine by Konjit Zewge, a collection of recipes of an 89 year old Ethiopian home cook. These sort of cookbooks are special because they preserve recipes that may be otherwise lost to time. 

I was excited to flip through this book and cook from it but there are some major flaws with how this cookbook has been put together- the recipes call for many specialty ingredients (but of course) and they are not explained very well. Several spice mixtures are called for but there are no recipes or sources given. Trying the recipes is going to take a lot of deciphering! Meanwhile, I am glad we have a new (and first) Ethiopian restaurant here in town, a tiny place tucked away in a strip mall where a very sweet lady makes flavorful home-style Ethiopian food. 

I'll end this post with a quick soup recipe made with simple pantry ingredients- I made it a couple of times last week and wanted to jot down the proportions for the next time I make this. This soup is good hot or warm or at room temperature or even chilled. 

Cream of Carrot & Tomato Soup

1. In a pressure cooker, add:

  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 onion cut in large dice
  • 4 medium carrots cut into large chunks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups water

2. Pressure cook. Let the mixture cool for 15 minutes or so. Add 3 tablespoons of cream cheese and 1/3 cup of cream or milk. Blend until smooth and creamy. Adjust seasoning to taste. Depending on the sweetness of the carrots and the acidity of the tomato, a few pinches of sugar may pull the flavors together. Serve.

Growing up, I always felt that the best part of a bowl of tomato soup were the oily, crisp croutons floating on it. A batch of croutons can be made in minutes on the stove top. I save bits of leftover baguette and other breads in the freezer just for this.

Heat a bit of butter and olive oil in a pan. I find that the mix of butter and olive oil is flavorful and does not burn easily. Saute cubes of bread until toasty and browned. Serve croutons with soup. Or just stand there and eat them by the handful- I won't judge.

What are you reading, cooking and eating this week? 

14 comments:

  1. I loved Cutting for Stone and all of Abraham Verghese's books. If you liked this book, you'll probably like the others too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm going to look for his other books- especially "My Own Country"

      Delete
  2. Soup looks yummy! Currently reading Clash of Kings (from game of thrones series) and loving it.
    A hectic few weeks and hence been eating a lot of one pot vegetable-daals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never got into the Game of Thrones series, Neha- either the books or the TV show. I've heard it is brutally violent and that has kept me away! Vegetable dal- always a favorite around here too.

      Delete
  3. Yes, cutting for stone remains one of my favorite novels too. Have you read Sea of Poppies by Amitav Gosh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I liked Sea of Poppies- several years ago, I read a lot of Amitav Ghosh's books and enjoyed them.

      Delete
    2. http://www.amitavghosh.com/index.html. Bookmarked it ages ago. He has some interesting essays.

      Delete
  4. The soup looks fab! How many whistles?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 2 whistles for me, Holly, but your mileage may vary :)

      Delete
  5. Finally after a long time, I am happy to report that I have finished two books in the recent past - When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi - heart-rending but powerfully unsentimental look at how to live your life s if it was going o end soon.

    And a summer recommendation - One in a Million Boy - about the father of a boy who discovers the boy after the boy's death by interacting with a 104 year old woman who was the bus scouting "project"

    And cooking - ah - just finished a month of a family visiting and making "square meals" but nothing noteworthy. I am looking forward to a weekend of the husband cooking Italian food!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kalanithi's book is on my to-read list, Vishakha. My close friend attended his wife's book reading (from his book) recently and said it was a moving experience.

      Thanks for the other book recommendation too- I am looking for summer reads!

      Delete
    2. De-recommendation - down read Eight Hundred Grapes or SweetBitter - the first is too much fluff but I finished it in 3 hours. The second one is just sloppy and I gave up

      Currently reading a new Maisie Hobbs my first - picked it up on a whim at the library

      Delete
  6. I couldn't get through "Cutting for Stone." I really wanted to like the book but I found the writing too dramatic for my taste. I began the book twice but gave up. Talking about Ethiopia, have you read Marcus Samuelsson's memoir "Yes Chef?" I enjoyed the book tremendously. Would probably read it again, if I could.

    Currently reading "The Story: A Reporter's Journey" by Judith Miller. Looks like a fascinating book but I need to read slower because there are details in there I am not 100% familiar with.

    We visited Vancouver this weekend, and dined at Po Kong, a fabulous Buddhist vegetarian restaurant. Loved it so much.

    We began watching "House of Cards" but I wonder if we will keep up with it. Ahh, let's see.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did read Yes Chef and loved it- Marcus Samuelsson is awesome. I've heard so much about Vancouver being a fabulous city to visit- glad you were able to go and have a good time there.

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to say hello!