Velvety carrot and ginger soup with tofu quenelles
With the early spring arriving in Italy, Theodora Hurustiati enjoys the cool temperature during the day. However, after the sun sets, she admits it becomes quite chilly in her home in Udine.
“A bowl of hearty and steamy soup is really suitable for dinner these days. Better yet if it’s accompanied by a piece of ciabatta bread or a baguette to wipe your bowl clean! This gesture is called “scarpetta”, though you might not want to do it at a formal dinner,” the Indonesian-born chef told The Jakarta Post via e-mail.
She explains that soups are mainly classified in three types in Italy: “minestrone” if it’s rustic and the vegetables are cut into chunks, “crema” if it’s thick, creamy and mainly made from legumes, and “vellutata” if it’s light and velvety.
“My favorite is the last one. Get yourself a hand-blender as a gift and you can start making vellutata from just about any vegetables you like. Root vegetables and pumpkins work best, but you can also use leafy greens with the addition of potatoes to give the soup a bit more body,” she said.
To make the soup, Theodora uses carrots and also uses tofu quenelles – a light dumpling very similar to Indonesian perkedel – which will soak up the soup as tofu puffs would do in a bowl of laksa.
The basic condiments for a classic vellutata are shallots, pepper and, sometimes, nutmeg.
“This time I added also fresh ginger to bring the vellutata to the Orient and to add more punch to the soup. A healthy, heartwarming, and affordable dinner, perfect for the rainy days,” she said. — JP
1 shallot, finely diced
10 grams fresh ginger, peeled and grated
500 grams carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
1 liter vegetable stock or water
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Heat the oil in a medium sized pan with a lid. Stir in the shallot and the ginger. Cook for about 2 minutes over a gentle fire until soft.
- Add the carrots, let cook for another 2 minutes before adding the stock. Increase the fire, cover the pan with lid and let the soup simmer for about 20-30 minutes, depending on how thick your carrots rounds are.
- In the mean time, you can start preparing the tofu quenelles.
- After about half an hour, the liquid should have been reduced by half and the carrots are tender and easily crushed with the ladle.
- Puree with a hand-held blender or food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Strain through a fine sieve to remove any possible grated ginger fibres. This will also allow a more velvety texture.
- Serve hot with the tofu quenelles and the garnishes.
180 grams firm tofu
Flat leaf parsley
Groundnut oil, for frying
- Crumble the tofu with your hands or a fork. Add the chopped parsley and the egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Combine and form quenelles using two wet spoons. Fry them in a hot and abundant oil until they are golden.
- Let rest on a piece of kitchen pepper to absorb the excess oil.
1 carrot, cut into brunnoise (3 mm cubes)
Curly parsley, leaves picked
Extra virgin olive oil
- Pour about two ladles of soup into each bowl.
- Lay the tofu quenelles gently in the centre.
- Scatter around the carrot cubes and the curly parsley leaves.
- Finish with few drops of the extra virgin olive oil.
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