Friday, November 12, 2010

Carrot Ginger Soup

This is the second post in a series focused on ginger, its health benefits, and the versatility of the root in recipes. I would love to hear your favorite uses for ginger, so please feel free to comment or email if you have something you'd like to share.  
If you missed the first post in this series, just click on the link below.
Ginger, Lemon & Honey: Tea for the Season

Ahhuhhhhh. That's how I spell a sigh.  It's my thank-you-god-it's-finally-Friday sigh, and I'm oh-so-glad to be breathing it.  Chemistry exam weeks are always a little on the horrendously stressful side, but I've made it through, and I'm just a few hours away from a glass of red and my PJ's.  But we're not here to talk about my school schedule, we're here to throw down and get the lowdown on some Zingiber officinale.  Ginger.

I've been doing some research this week (during that time when I'm procrastinating on the quantum mechanical model) to learn some new and exciting things about ginger.  In my last post, I discussed the use of ginger for coughs and colds, but this herbal root has a few more tricks up its sleeve.  It turns out that the most common and most studied medicinal use of ginger is in the treatment of nausea.

Specifically, ginger has been deemed an effective treatment for nausea and upset stomach related to motion sickness, post-op, and even chemotherapy1. Forget the Dramamine on that next road trip.  Try ginger instead. Help yourself or your loved-one to lessen the intense side effects of chemo with a natural food.  It makes sense to try ginger for these issues, not only because it has been shown to be effective, but also because it is inexpensive, readily available, and safe2. Remember to always consult your doctor before attempting to treat yourself. 

On top of the entiemetic (doctor-talk for 'drug that is effective against vomiting and nausea') properties of ginger, it is also used to aid digestion.  The scientific jury is still out on the efficacy in this arena, but many believe that ginger stimulates healthy gut-flow and may even calm the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. One study showed that consuming ginger prior to meals led to a higher frequency of muscle contractions in the stomach, helping to move food into the upper small intestine, thereby emptying the stomach more quickly3.  Cheap, safe, and makes meal-times more enjoyable?  I'm sold.

So the question seems to be, how can we reap the health benefits of ginger?  I've already given you a recipe for tea, but I do realize that flavored, hot water can lose its luster after awhile. For that reason, today I'm sharing with you a savory, spicy soup - also fantastic for the season. 

This dish was inspired not just by my Ginger Series, but also by the enormous amount of carrots that we harvested from the garden this year.  I wanted to use them up while the fresh, carroty flavor was still at its peak.  This is another of those recipes where the ginger can be adjusted to suit your style.  The amount given in this recipe will give you a little kick in the pants but shouldn't send you crying home to your mother, if you get my drift.

Carrot Ginger Soup w/ Jalapeno Butter
adapted from this recipe on
makes 6 large servings

For the jalapeno butter:
3 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 to 1 whole jalapeno, minced
  • Mix the jalapeno into the butter, cover and chill until ready to use.
For the soup:
2 T. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. carrots, cut into 1/4-1/2" rounds*
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 T. peeled, minced fresh ginger (depending on your taste buds)
5 C. vegetable or chicken broth
juice of 1/2 a lemon
dash of cayenne
salt to taste
*For a smoother soup, you may want to peel the carrots. I feel like it's a waste, so I left mine unpeeled.
  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium.  Add the carrots, onion and ginger, and then sprinkle with salt and a dash of cayenne.  Saute until the veggies are slightly softened, about 10 minutes.  
  • Add the broth, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.  Continue simmering for 15-20 minutes, until the carrots are cooked through.
    • Allow the soup to cool slightly, and then blend in batches in blender (or use an immersion blender).
    • Return the soup to the large pot and stir in the lemon juice.  Bring soup back to a simmer and adjust salt as necessary.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with a small scoop of jalapeno butter.

    1 - University of Maryland Medical Center
    2 - Archives of Family Medicine
    3 - Bastyr Center for Natural Health

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