For Christmas a few years ago, we spent the holiday in Tanzania, including a week on safari in the Serengeti. It was everything we hoped it would be and the days passed quickly as we thrilled with the sight of a leopard on the hunt, startled at the sound of a lioness calling to her cubs, and chuckled at the antics of the warthogs.
Our trip left lasting impressions, as any good trip does. Takeaways from Tanzania included a bit of insight, a bit of knowledge and a new culinary inspiration: seeing animals in a zoo would never be the same; the name for a group of mongoose is a business; and creamy soup is a wonderful thing.
The soup started with our first meal at Ngorgoro Lodge. It was a carrot soup, smooth, creamy, slightly spiced and simply delicious. I no longer remember what kind of soup we had on the second night, but it doesn’t matter, it was delicious as well and the hook was set. When we moved to Dunia camp, there was more soup – tomato I think – and I resolved to add to my soup repertoire.
I’d been making soup for years (I make a mean roasted red pepper soup), but these soups inspired me to explore more and particularly hunt for a carrot soup that would equal what we had on our trip. I found a carrot soup recipe that I now use often – it’s perfect on a chilly Sunday evening. It took a while but I’ve also tweaked a squash soup to my liking.
The carrot soup recipe is this Creamy Carrot Soup from All Recipes. I use almost twice as much ginger as it calls for, though, to be sure the flavor comes through. The pumpkin soup I’ve been making since fall is loosely based on a recipe I found but I’ve tweaked it enough to call my own. It’s delicious and fragrant and validated my use of butter and sage as the “sauce” for the seasonal pumpkin ravioli that arrives in our local Coop in the fall.
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Based on a recipe from Chef Kerry Simon
2 T butter
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 apple, peeled and diced
2 cups roasted pumpkin, in large chunks
1 T sage leaves
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup cream
salt and freshly ground pepper
Melt butter and saute onion, carrot, apple, pumpkin and sage until tender, about 20 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender. (This is when the wonderful sage aroma starts to rise!) Add the stock and simmer 15 minutes, then stir in the cream and heat until warmed through. Do not boil. Season to taste with pepper and, if you wish, salt.