South African Carrot Soup

A South African Specialty

Following two wonderful weeks of Indian Summer, the first days of Fall have reached Petaluma, California. Today I made one of my favorite soup recipes: South African Carrot Soup.

ElephantI joined family and friends on a quest to build a sister-school project in South Africa when my children were in middle school and high school. During many visits, I discovered their lovely cuisine as I shared meals with the equally lovely people I met. South Africa is known as the rainbow nation because of the amazing diversity of its people. This beautiful diversity is reflected in their music, art, culture and food. I experienced the fusion of African, European and Asian cooking come together in flavorful and healthy meals during a stay at the Ghost Mountain Inn. The inn is family owned and run, and is near several nature preserves — I fell in love with the nearby Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park’s elephant herd.

The following recipe is a favorite for many reasons: It is simple, healthy, yummy, and reminds me of my heart’s connection to a special place on the planet. If you like butternut squash soup, this is a great recipe for you, and the carrots are much easier to peel and dice!

2 tablespoons olive oil
12 medium, or 7/8 large, carrots peeled and roughly diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (plus 1/4 to 1/2 cup if needed later)
3 to 4 spoonfuls of unsalted peanut butter (almond and cashew butter also work)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon yellow curry (or more if you like it spicy)
1/2 teaspoon orange zest (just the orange part of the peel, not the white part)
pinch of salt
fresh ground pepper to tasteCarrot Soup Ingredients

Saute diced onion and carrots in olive oil with a pinch or two of salt for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they just begin to get golden (this brings out the sugars). Add broth and bring to a simmer for 7 to 10 minutes, until just cooked — don’t overcook the carrots. Let the soup cool down so that you can safely puree it in a blender or food processor. Return the puree to the soup pot, and add a little more broth if it is too thick for your liking. Bring to a simmer then add peanut butter (or other nut butter), yellow curry, orange zest and pepper to taste and simmer 5 to 10 minutes.