Carrot coconut soup

Well hey! I admit I may have left some people hanging after that last post. Something about big news, exciting things coming our way, etc. I'm happy to tell you, Internet, that there's going to be a new member of the household; a little baby on his way in early June-ish. Are we thrilled? Obviously. Are we amazed? Yes. Am I relieved that the first trimester is over? DEAR GOD YES. I'm safely nestled in the notoriously glorious 2nd trimester, about 3 weeks from the loin-girding home stretch of the 3rd.

Something that happens when you are expecting a child is the question, from very nice people, daily: "HOW ARE YOU FEEEEEELING?!?!!!??" And I'm happy (and maybe a little relieved?) that for the most part my truthful answers have been rather positive. I have not yet once clutched a toilet bowl or craved foods that would make me a social outcast. But: the first trimester saw me opening refrigerator and cabinet doors each day with a pout. Nothing I normally loved sounded good, and all the things I had long deemed mere snacks, like, for children, came floating across my vision in a new, shining light. Cereal, chocolate milk, sweetened creamy oatmeal, ice cream... if it was any combination of cold, sweet and/or creamy, all was well.

But it felt like no way to grow a human

At a certain point - maybe into the 2nd month? - something snapped. Or clicked. I don't know if I simply couldn't stand my mono-diet anymore, or if I was suddenly imbued with a fierce pregnant warrior bravery that demanded I quit being such a baby and eat some real food. For my actual baby.

So one fall afternoon I took to Google to find a recipe that sounded safe (i.e. not barfy) and could help restore some long-missing nutrients to my system. I happened upon a suspiciously simple looking recipe from Bon Appetit: carrot coconut soup. The flavors were vaguely Thai, but I could count the primary ingredients on one hand, and all of them sounded nice at the moment. Truly cause for celebration.

I also credit this soup with helping me get back on the kitchen wagon. The first time I made it, I did so exactly to the letter. This resulted in probably the kind of soup I needed at the moment: nutritious, gentle on my system, and flavorful without being overwhelming. The next time I made it, I aimed for something equally simple, but with a little bit more character. So I buzzed in a whole lot more chili sauce and a bunch of freshly squeezed lemon juice, but left everything else somewhat similar to the original version. Since then, I've swapped out coconut oil for the butter, done a bit of both, and also let the onions get really nicely colored (accidentally, then on purpose).

I imagine this is an excellent soup for sensitive but easily-bored tummies, those with colds who crave something creamy but need to avoid dairy, and even kids to whom you're introducing the fun element of heat and spice. It's a breeze to put together and freezes nicely.

And speaking of kids - because this is how I think these days - it's a fun recipe to get their help with, due to its small and simple ingredient list, and the fact that precision chopping is totally unnecessary, since you're pureeing the bejesus out of it anyway.


Carrot Coconut Soup (adapted from Bon Appetit)

8 tablespoons (1 stick or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, coconut oil, or a combination of both

2 onions, chopped

2 pounds carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 cans (13.5 oz each) coconut milk

1/4 to 1/2 cup Thai-stye chili sauce (depending on how spicy you’d like it)

Juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes, plus more for serving

For serving: cilantro, more chili sauce, lemon or lime wedges, chopped green onions (all optional)

In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter or coconut oil. Add the onion and stir occasionally for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onions begin to color. Add the carrot, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broth, coconut milk, and chili sauce. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, stir, and let simmer uncovered for 40 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. The carrots should be very soft and the liquid should have reduced a bit.

Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender or regular blender (if using a regular blender, you can do this in batches so as not to overfill), puree the soup until completely smooth.

Return the soup to the pot if necessary and thin with a small amount of broth if you like. Add the lemon or lime juice, and taste and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the cilantro, more chili sauce, lime wedges, and/or chopped green onions.

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