Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Carrot, Bell Pepper and Saffron Soup

Last week, there was a ridiculous amount of snow. 

Lake effect conditions from Sunday until Wednesday made my drives to and from work much, much longer than they usually are. With all that extra time in the car, I got to listen to things on the radio that I don't normally get the chance to hear. Thus, Carrot Saffron Soup was born.

I managed to be in the car long enough to hear a piece on NPR about using saffron. (I'm just mad about saffron, saffron's mad about me...) You know, that spice that is more expensive than most illicit drugs? On this show, I learned that it takes more than 75,000 crocus flowers to make one pound of saffron, which takes about the area of a football field to cultivate. One pound of saffron generally costs over $1000. 

Of course, I have saffron in my spice cupboard! I forked over the $15 for .06 ounces, or whatever it was, and I have only used once, for a tomato paella dish (courtesy of The Wednesday Chef. Which, by the way, was amazingly delicious and worth making again). 

In short, the story on NPR was the come-to-jesus moment for me to use my saffron again. In deliciously spicy carrot and bell pepper soup. Here is the recipe with the (very few) changes I made:

Soup of Carrot, Bell Pepper and Saffron
adapted from here

2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil (I used coconut oil over med-low heat)
2 medium leeks, peeled and coarsely chopped (white and light green parts only)
1  pound carrots, peeled and sliced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon ground coriander (hand ground in a mortar and pestle, if you have a lot of dried coriander leftover from your summer cilantro like we do!)
1/2 teaspoon saffron
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup heavy cream organic half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt or to taste, if desired
Saffron to garnish green onions to garnish

Melt the coconut oil in a medium (3-quart) saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and cook for about 6-7 minutes or until translucent.
Add the carrots, and bell pepper and cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the carrots begin to soften.
Add the turmeric, cayenne, coriander, saffron and mix well. Cook for another minute.
Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender.
Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender, or use an immersion blender, one of the random kitchen appliances that I own and absolutely love.
Stir in the cream, salt and pepper and garnish with green onions.

Do you have any great recipes that use saffron? 

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