Ok, so I might not be the biggest fan of resolutions, but I do love the unofficial New Year's "cleanse." It seems like a good chunk of the population participates in this cleanse in one way or another. Some people are really serious (which I am hearing about all over my facebook news feed right now) and do things like juice cleanses or really restrictive food cleanses. More power to ya, but drinking nothing but juice for a week sounds like how they torture people into giving up secrets to me. Others start hitting the gym a little harder, and while I am exercise's #1 fan, is there anything worse than the gym in January???? All those people! I have to get to my favorite spin class like 30 minutes early and then I spend the whole class giving a dirty look to the guy who stole my favorite bike thinking "I know you won't be here in three weeks you fair weather gym-er...don't ever take my bike again!"
Ok, I've taken a few deep breaths. I'm OK.
Still more people decide to clean up their eating; a welcome change from the month and a half of indulgence that is the holiday season. I am 100% on board with this. I definitely let myself be a little less careful during the holiday season. I mean, it only happens once a year so I have to take advantage, right? But come January-ish, it's time to get back on track.
One of my favorite ways to get my eating back on a cleaner track is by making lots and lots of soup! Soups are a great way to "detox" without feeling like you are detoxing. You can fill them with with veggies, control the amount of fat and calories, and make a big batch so dinner is just a few minutes and zero thinking away.
This carrot ginger soup is perfect for a chilly day (much like we are currently having in California!) and packs in tons of good-for-you stuff without skimping on the flavor.
This soup is packed with lots and lots and LOTS of ginger. The carrot/ginger combo is kind of a no brainer, but really loading up on the ginger makes the spicy, tangy, root the star of the show. Maybe I should have called it ginger carrot soup! A quick ginger tip: I always peel my ginger as soon as I get it home - it's a pain, but saves lots of time later. Then I stick it in the freezer. It is much easier to grate while frozen, and most recipes call for grated ginger. This recipe, however, uses chopped ginger, so if you store your's in the fridge, just take it out about 30 minutes before chopping.
The carrots and ginger get a little help from a few very important ingredients. Carrots are naturally sweet, so red pepper flakes are a perfect balance. Although ginger is spicy, it is in a different way then the pepper flakes. They all work together really well.
Speaking of.. my secret ingredient in this soup is (shhhh!!) orange juice!
The sweetness goes perfectly with the carrots and the acid balances everything out. It really makes the soup special.
You can easily make this a vegetarian soup by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, but I always have homemade chicken stock in the freezer I need to use up (plus I think it tastes great!). This soup with also be perfect if you or a loved one has caught that cold that seems to be going around. If you haven't caught it yet, this soup also freezes really well so you can store some in the freezer for when you do! :)
Recipe: Carrot Ginger Soup
- 4 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped ginger (about 3 2" long roots)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8-10 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup orange juice
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 3 minutes. Add carrot and cook 5-7 minutes, until beginning to tenderize. Add ginger, salt and pepper. Cook 5 more minutes.
- Add about 8 cups chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir the soup every now and then and add more stock if necessary.
- When carrots are tender, remove pan from heat and puree soup. You can do this with a hand blender or in batches in a regular blender. Stir in orange juice. If soup is too thick stir in more chicken stock, up to 10 cups.
- Season again to taste with salt and pepper.