Do you ever get a little overwhelmed in the produce aisle or grocery store in general? I do. Lately I find myself wondering what is ok to buy and eat. We participate in a CSA during the summer. All of the fruits and vegetables we receive from June through October are grown locally. Now there is barely anything local available.
Our market has a small section of organic produce but the prices are extremely high. When you go to a place like Whole Foods, you may assume everything you are buying is organic but that’s not actually the case. There are definitely more organic options available but they are at a premium cost as well.
The Environmental Working Group publishes a shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce every year. There are two quick reference lists; The Dirty Dozen and The Clean 15 which are helpful in terms of determining where it is best to invest your dollars. Please check out their website for more detailed information on the results.
The only vegetables not on the dirty dozen list that I always buy organic are carrots. They are readily available almost everywhere and pretty decently priced. I had an abundance of organic baby carrots and some apples in the house I needed to use so I decided to make this soup. When I started cooking the soup, I assumed I would stir in some coconut milk at the end. However, after tasting it, I felt the flavors were spot on and the texture was great. I didn’t want to drown out the spices with the coconut. I love the balance between the savory carrots, the sweet apples, the spicy thai chili peppers and the smokiness of the cumin. You can really taste all of them in every bite!
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 celery rib, diced, plus leaves for garnish
- 2 small garlic cloves, diced
- ½ tsp sambal oelek (Thai red chili paste), plus additional for garnish
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- 1½ lbs carrots, cut into 1" pieces
- 4 small apples (about 1 lb), peeled, cored and cut into 1" pieces
- 4 cups unsalted vegetable stock
- Heat oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium-low heat. Add onions, celery and garlic and cook, tossing occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 5-6 minutes. Lower heat, if needed, to avoid browning. Add sambal oelek and cumin and toss until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add carrots and apples, season with kosher salt and black pepper and cook, tossing frequently, for about 2-3 minutes more until beginning to sweat. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Partially cover and reduce heat to simmering. Continue simmering for about 45-55 minutes, or until carrots and apples are tender. Add up to 2 cups of water, if needed to cover as the liquid reduces while cooking.
- Allow to cool slightly before transferring into a blended in two batches and pureeing until smooth. Taste and season liberally with kosher salt and black pepper (you may need to be a little aggressive to get the full flavors of the soup since the vegetable stock is unsalted). Serve soup drizzled with additional sambal oelek and garnished with celery leaves, if desired.