When I took a closer look at my new cookbook, I noticed that they had a recipe for carrot soup. Which amused me. I don’t think I ever had carrot soup. I’ve had carrots in various different ways, but I don’t remember soup being one of them. If you don’t count pumpkin soup that needs a bit of carrot to add something extra to the flavour. So, I thought it would be nice to make carrot soup. And I would let my family enjoy my new cookbook to. So I took buses and a train and travelled for 2 hours to meet them. Of course I made sure I had the recipe. I wasn’t going to carry around the entire cookbook for one lousy recipe.
The next day I went to the shops to look for one of the ingredients. It was called ‘sereh’, or ‘citroengras’ in Dutch, but I think you’ll find it more helpful to know that it’s called cymbopogon, or lemon grass. Really, cymbopogon. That must be one of the greatest names for a herb/vegetable/thingy, ever! I don’t even know how to pronounce that! Anyway, I asked in two supermarkets that I payed a visit. They stared at me blankly. ‘Lemon grass?’ they’d say (lemon grass being the literal translation of citroengras), and I’d confirm, ‘Yup, lemon grass’. One girl asked her boss, the other didn’t even bother, in the end both supermarkets didn’t have it. Which must ultimately be because they weren’t Albert Heijns. I’m sure that the Albert Heijn would’ve had lemon grass. If only because they sell a stupid cookbook that demands you cook something with lemon grass in it. Because they didn’t even know what lemon grass was, I had to think of something else. Can you just leave out lemon grass? I asked myself. Is it a key ingredient? And I pondered about the thing while I ransacked the sweets rack in the supermarket. It must be. You wouldn’t want lemon grass in your carrot soup if it wasn’t a key ingredient, right? But there was no lemon grass to be had. And since I myself didn’t really have a clear idea of what this mystic lemon grass was (or tasted like) I assumed it was something ‘lemony’. And I thought of all the lemony things that were to be had. First of all, lemons. Should I add some lemon juice to my soup? Or some lemon zest? I mean, anything with lemon zest is great. In the end I settled for lemon balm. Which had just come up after a long winter. I ended up picking some young fresh lemon balm leaves, cut them up and put them in my soup. I have no idea if it completely ruined it or not. I’ll have to make the soup sometime again, this time only with lemon grass, and hopefully I will remember what my first attempt tasted like.
I liked it. The carrot soup was soft, easy on the taste buds, not too spicy. But it might have been a little boring, even. And that’s not really good. So maybe it will be incredibly exciting with lemon grass in it? In general it wasn’t really something I’d make anytime soon. Because it wasn’t exactly knocking my taste buds’ socks off. And anything that does that is a must repeat for me. I love knocking my taste buds into outer space with something good. I love the extra terrestrial experience and sensation that evokes.
400 gr carrot, diced (the big ones, winterpeen)
100 ml sour cream
1 shallot, cut up
1 clove of garlic, cut up
500 ml chicken broth
Fry shallots and garlic for 3 minutes in oil. Add carrot and fry for another minute. Don’t turn the heat too high, or the carrots will burn. Cut up the lemon grass in length. Pour the broth over the shallots etc, add the lemon grass. Bring to a boil and boil for about 20 minutes). Remove lemon grass and use a stick blender to mash the soup. Remember: once blended the soup will be thicker and you don’t want your pot to explode on your new clothes, unless they’re orange and it won’t show, so turn down the heat and make sure the soup isn’t actively boiling. Use half of the sour cream and stir it through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Put a spoon of sour cream in the plates, add the soup, and add some freshly cut off garden cress. Serve with a baguette and butter.
Well, everything was extremely local, especially since I didn’t use lemon grass, which is probably from God knows where. Everything was Dutch, but from the supermarket. Except the lemon balm, which was about 50 yards from the kitchen window.