Thai-Style Carrot Soup

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 40 minutes

If you think of carrot soup as creamy and French (and there’s no reason not to; see left), this will expand the concept for you. It’s still creamy, but decidedly unFrench, with classic Southeast Asian flavors and even a little heat.

2 tablespoons peanut or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

3 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and bruised (see Specialty Herbs for Enthusiasts), then cut into 2-inch lengths

10 nickel-sized slices peeled ginger

2 cloves garlic, peeled

8 to 10 medium carrots (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces

Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste

1 quart homemade coconut milk or 2 cans, slightly less than 1 quart, with a little water

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish, plus their stems

1 teaspoon sugar, if necessary

1 lime, quartered, for serving

01 Put the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the lemongrass, ginger, and garlic and cook, stirring and turning occasionally, until the garlic is golden, about 5 minutes.

02 Add the carrots, a large pinch of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon or so of cayenne. Cook for a minute, then add the coconut milk and 2 cups water. Add the cilantro stems. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer the soup for 15 minutes bubbles should break the surface only occasionally or until the carrots are tender. (You may prepare the soup in advance up to this point. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days before pureing.)

03 Fish out the cilantro stems. Then use an immersion blender to pure the soup in the pan. Or cool the mixture slightly (hot soup is dangerous), pass it through a food mill or pour it into a blender, and pure carefully. Reheat as necessary, then taste and adjust the seasoning, adding salt, cayenne, and sugar if you think the soup needs it. Divide the soup into bowls, garnish with cilantro, and serve with lime wedges.