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Carrot Ginger Soup with Candied Walnuts

Mariel here. In anticipation of the post-Christmas blizzard, I scurried to the local grocery store to stock up on supplies. You know, just in case a crowd of wayward travelers landed on my front door in need of a hot meal. I overdid it – to say the least – and ended up with three pounds of carrots languishing in my crisper. I guess I got caught up in the supermarket hysteria, but at least I didn’t land in the hospital like one of the frazzled shoppers I ran into – seriously.

Anyhoo, there’s really only two things to do with three pounds of carrots – roast ’em or turn ’em into soup. Having just dug into Braise-Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables, I opted for the latter. This is a pretty basic recipe, but since we cater – no pun intended – to home-chefs looking to dazzle their guests on a dime, I gussied it up a bit with candied walnuts (pecans would also work). They add a delicious little crunch that transforms this classic soup into something truly special. Plus it’s totally resolution-friendly – it costs under $5 and is super healthy.

If you’re only serving a party of two, this dish also freezes beautifully since it’s dairy-free – just store the walnuts separately. My icebox is now well-stocked in anticipation of Snowpocalypse Part II.

Psst: if you’d like a double-dose of beta carotene, serve this alongside our Butternut Bread. Your eyes will thank you.

Carrot Ginger Soup with Candied Walnuts
Makes about 6 bowl-size servings

Ingredients for the Soup:
3 lbs. carrots, peeled and roughly chopped – $2.25
1 thumb-size piece of ginger (approximately 2 inches long), peeled and grated – $0.49
1 cup unsweetened applesauce – $1.39
5 cups of low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock – stock
¼-cup brown sugar, loosely packed – stock
2 Tablespoons olive oil – stock
Salt and pepper to taste – stock

Ingredients for the Candied Walnuts:
1 cup walnut pieces – stock
2 Tablespoons sweet butter – stock
2 Tablespoons brown sugar – stock
Grand total assuming “well-stocked” kitchen: $4.13
Cost per serving: $0.69

Directions for the Candied Walnuts:
1. In a small skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, stirring well to combine. Add the walnuts and, stirring constantly, sauté for about 10 minutes over medium-low flame until the nuts are fragrant.

2. Transfer to a small dish and allow to cool completely. The glaze will harden during the cooling process.

Directions for the Soup:
1. In a large stockpot, saute the carrots in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until they soften and start to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Add the ginger and saute for another 1 minute.

2. Add the low-sodium stock and applesauce, bring contents to a boil then cover, reduce heat to medium-low (or low, depending on your stovetop) and simmer for 45 minutes. You want the carrots super tender.

3. In batches, transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree.

4. Transfer the puree back to the stockpot and reheat over medium-low heat. Add the brown sugar, taste the soup and then season with salt and pepper. Simmer through for 5 minutes and then serve hot, garnished with Candied Walnuts.