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RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus Salad

by Jenise » Tue Oct 27, 2015 2:26 pm

The other night Bob and I went to a dinner party. To celebrate his wife's birthday, for a party of ten the friend was preparing all the recipes from the eponymously named cookbook by Morroccan San Francisco chef Mourad.

This friend rarely cooks.

And the day before had been the one day that happens to him every year when he realizes winter's actually here and he goes into a paralytic funk, and earlier that day they'd had to call 911 for his collapsed diabetic father-in-law. Neither of which I knew when I called them from I-5 to say we were running about 20 minutes late, and Gabe said he was running late too, joking in a voice that was all nerves, "If you have any errands to run in Seattle, you might do that on the way."

Seattle is 100 miles away.

When we arrived, in his woefully inadequate 80 year old powder-bath sized kitchen I took this inventory: a large pot of carrots sweating on the stove and another of onions that were being stirred with a balloon whisk, a huge ball of dough proofing, and a weird mound of ex-parsnip parts. He was planning five courses, including three dozen grilled flatbreads, and this was all he'd got done. At 6:30, a main course at around 11:00 looked probable.

Do you have friends who do this? I love this guy but he's highly disorganized and running late on the best of days. He's a complex guy who in college majored in modern choreography and yet minored in math. He makes a living selling wine but in his head he's dancing to John Cage. Kind of hard to come down to earth.

Anyway, many things went wrong, and even with my help we did indedd eat the main course about 11:00, but his heart really was in the right place, and the best thing he made was this sensational carrot and vanilla bean soup scooped into a shallow bowl around a pile of citrus supremes--grapefruit, orange and lemon. An odd-sounding combination, but glorious.

Mourad's Carrot Soup With Citrus Salad

Serves 6

Hands on time: 20 minutes Total time: 70 minutes

One of the more ubiquitous Moroccan salads is carrots (cooked in the winter and fall, shredded raw in the summer), orange juice, cumin and rose or orange blossom water, with a few torn mint leaves on top. This is that, reinvented as a smooth curried carrot soup with the fresh, cooling effect of citrus and mint. Fresh carrot juice is best for this soup, so if you don’t have a juicer, look for a good, fresh-squeezed brand or buy it at a juice bar.

Soup
12 garlic cloves
6 mint sprigs
6 thyme sprigs
small piece of cheesecloth
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups sliced yellow onions
1 cup Riesling
1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
8 cups fresh carrot juice
1 vanilla bean
8 cups thinly sliced carrots

Citrus Salad
1 grapefruit
1 blood orange
1 lemon, preferably a Meyer lemon
2 drops orange blossom water
36 small mint leaves

For the soup: Wrap the garlic, mint and thyme in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie to make a sachet. In a small stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, stir them to coat with the butter, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until translucent. Add the sachet and cook for another 10 minutes to infuse the flavors and color the onions lightly. Add the wine, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and cook for about 4 minutes, or until the wine has evaporated. Lower the heat to medium, add the curry, salt, and white pepper, and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Add the carrot juice and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, split the vanilla bean lengthwise and use a paring knife to scrape out the seeds. Add both the seeds and pod to the pot. When the liquid is simmering, add the carrots and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the carrots are tender, adjusting the heat if necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Remove and discard the sachet and vanilla pod.

Use a regular blender or immersion blender to puree the soup. If using a regular blender, puree the soup in small batches, never filling the blender more than half-full; pour the pureed soup into a saucepan. Check the thickness of the soup. If it seems too thick, stir in up to a cup of cold water, adding a little at a time until you’re happy with the consistency. If there are still some small bits of carrot, you may want to re-blend the soup, and for a very silkier texture, you may want to strain it through a fine-mesh strainer.

For the citrus salad: Cut away the peel and white pith from the grapefruit, orange and lemon, then cut between the membranes to release the segments. Cut the grapefruit segments in half. Cut lemon segments into 1/4-inch dice. Put all the fruit segments in a bowl, sprinkle with the orange blossom water and toss gently.

To serve:
Re-warm the soup. Arrange a small mound of the fruit salad and 6 mint leaves in one side of each bowl. Ladle the soup around the fruit so that a bit of the fruit and mint remains visible.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus

by Jeff Grossman » Tue Oct 27, 2015 3:29 pm

I loves me carrot + citrus. There is a very simple carrottes rapees salad in the first Silver Palate that is just as yummy today as it was then: shredded carrots, orange + lemon juice, black pepper, currants, mint. Cool and crisp.

I have heard stories of friends-of-friends who are that disorganized but none in my immediate circle of friends. The most egregious is from a friend who was invited, socially, to the home of a world-famous practitioner in his field of endeavor - published author, quoted in magazines and newspapers, studied in academe, the whole thing. You'd think he would have it together.... but apparently not. Eventually, somewhere around midnight, Mr. Famous came out of the kitchen with a plate of tuna fish salad sandwiches! :lol:
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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus

by Jenise » Tue Oct 27, 2015 5:12 pm

That carrot salad sounds great.

The tuna story made me howl.

But it's true, and this was part of the table talk that night: timing is the hardest thing for most people and nearly impossible for people who rarely cook, even if they didn't have the kind of bleak space and poorly-provisioned kitchen that my friend was trying to work in. So is calculating what ten people will eat for a multi-course meal. We actually ended up eating nearly all the flatbreads (which I grilled), but that was only because it was the only thing to eat there for about an hour and a half. In a better-managed meal, they'd have gone begging. :)
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus

by Jeff Grossman » Tue Oct 27, 2015 5:47 pm

Agreed that timing is one of the hardest parts of any meal. Feasts, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, with their innumerable dishes, require military precision -- how much can you get in the oven at once? at what temperature? can it go 50*F hotter and still come out all right? -- but even fairly simple dinners need it. Yesterday's dinner was shrimp in pumpkin sauce, served over penne. But I had to make a couple last-minutes substitutions and, anyway, I was sauteeing each class of ingredients separately. I had two pans going and I really had to think about what goes in which one, after which other one, and how to make it all come out approximately together.
Last edited by Jeff Grossman on Wed Oct 28, 2015 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus

by Mike Filigenzi » Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:20 pm

Back when I first got into cooking, I had problems in getting diinner to the table before 10:00 or so. My problems tended to involved both disorganization and a lot of over-ambitiousness. Thankfully, I've gotten quite a bit better about this over the years. I'm now working on actually having a clean kitchen when guests arrive rather than one in which dirty pots, pans, and utensils fill the sink and countertops.

That soup sounds wonderful, Jenise. The one part that would bug me would be cutting out the supremes, which I find to be a pain. I'll do it when necessary, though, and it sounds like it would be worthwhile for this dish.
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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus

by Jenise » Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:45 pm

Mike Filigenzi wrote:Back when I first got into cooking, I had problems in getting diinner to the table before 10:00 or so. My problems tended to involved both disorganization and a lot of over-ambitiousness. Thankfully, I've gotten quite a bit better about this over the years. I'm now working on actually having a clean kitchen when guests arrive rather than one in which dirty pots, pans, and utensils fill the sink and countertops.

That soup sounds wonderful, Jenise. The one part that would bug me would be cutting out the supremes, which I find to be a pain. I'll do it when necessary, though, and it sounds like it would be worthwhile for this dish.


Overambitiousness is definitely a culprit, and that certainly hurt my friend as did inexperience in estimating prep times. I felt so sorry for him!

Timing's always come very naturally to me. (A chef I know posited that women are better wired for multi-tasking so that they can raise babies.) It always came naturally to me, but I'm not sure it isn't just something you learn, both in terms of organizing and making smart menu choices. People who aren't very self-disciplined will always have problems, though.

Believe me, the supremes are worth it.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus

by Christina Georgina » Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:23 pm

I love Mourad. Often fussy but I have concentrated on the seasonings, sauces and spice mixes. Just wonderful to have these on hand to play with. Found a source for the Urfa and Marash Chile and keep his vadouvan, ras el hanout, Aziza curry, dry and wet harissa and z'hug in the freezer/pantry.
With some of the basics on hand a Mourad Moroccan dinner could be do able but a last minute thing for a novice could be um.....interesting.
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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus

by Jeff Grossman » Wed Oct 28, 2015 12:52 am

Jenise wrote:So is calculating what ten people will eat for a multi-course meal.

I still find this hard. My head says that I must make platefuls of stuff when, with enough dishes, a couple spoonfuls of each will do fine.
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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus

by Jenise » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:33 pm

Jeff Grossman/NYC wrote:
Jenise wrote:So is calculating what ten people will eat for a multi-course meal.

I still find this hard. My head says that I must make platefuls of stuff when, with enough dishes, a couple spoonfuls of each will do fine.


And in fact would be desirable. Fortunately and unfortunately, my friend's ice cream didn't set up because we were all stuffed with the huge portions of main course--when it came--risotto with rack of lamb. It wasn't fun, for his sake, to be relieved to not have a dessert to eat. Slow satiation is the way to go.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus

by wnissen » Fri Oct 30, 2015 9:21 pm

One relative is overly ambitious. Elaborate menu selected (note that I didn't say "planned"), such as six different kinds of sausage for a breakfast buffet. Pans that would barely suffice for a party of six pressed into service for eighteen. The fridge, stove, and floor space are spacious, but the countertops are small and there's only one oven, so it's a challenge. Lately she sets the menu and I buy the remaining ingredients, plan the cooking, and execute it. Stresses out my wife to no end, but I really like it.

Not that I have room to complain. Last Christmas I was certain I had ordered a goose from a local farm and found out that I had not. The kindly proprietor offered to kill one for me, but it was going to take too long. I had to scramble and found a whole tenderloin instead. I've never been more grateful that this crowd isn't into wine pairings, so I could substitute the main course without issue.
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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus

by Jenise » Sun Nov 01, 2015 2:44 pm

Christina Georgina wrote:With some of the basics on hand a Mourad Moroccan dinner could be do able but a last minute thing for a novice could be um.....interesting.


And make that a novice with a tiny kitchen with almost no counter top. His prep space was essentially the top of the rolling dishwasher (it's not built in, they have to roll it over to the kitchen sink and plug it into the faucet.). That's what, about 2' square.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus

by Bill Spohn » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:21 pm

Interesting recipe.

I find that vanilla is an additive that can be easily over done - a fine line between adding an interesting hint and making it cloying or just weird. Need a deft touch!
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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus

by Jenise » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:24 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:Interesting recipe.

I find that vanilla is an additive that can be easily over done - a fine line between adding an interesting hint and making it cloying or just weird. Need a deft touch!


Agreed; and I'm actually not a fan of vanilla period. But it integrated into this soup perfectly. Really delicious.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus

by Jenise » Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:13 pm

Made this recipe this weekend in Los Angeles to accompany a flight of California chardonnay. INCREDIBLE. Both because it's THAT good and because it paired so well with California chardonnays. Highly recommended!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus

by Mike Filigenzi » Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:27 am

Wow - fun to look back on this thread. Definitely nice to get a reminder of the soup recipe.

Also nice to see that I really have gotten better about having a fairly clean kitchen when the guests arrive. Progress!!
"People who love to eat are always the best people"

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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus Salad

by Jason Hagen » Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:52 am

Sounds yummy.

Jenise wrote:
Use a regular blender or immersion blender to puree the soup. If using a regular blender, puree the soup in small batches, never filling the blender more than half-full; pour the pureed soup into a saucepan. Check the thickness of the soup. If it seems too thick, stir in up to a cup of cold water, adding a little at a time until you’re happy with the consistency. If there are still some small bits of carrot, you may want to re-blend the soup, and for a very silkier texture, you may want to strain it through a fine-mesh strainer.



I love my stick blender. I learned my lesson after cooking into the night, for a Xmas dinner for my staff, and was finishing up some butternut squash soup. In a tired, probably wine assisted haze, I ladled the first batch into the blender and hit the button. :shock: Now I have hot soup on my face and in just about every nook and cranny in my kitchen. I just wanted to finish the soup and go to bed. Instead I would spend the late night cleaning. I think I might have said a bad word, or seven.

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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus Salad

by Rahsaan » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:57 pm

Jason Hagen wrote: I ladled the first batch into the blender and hit the button. :shock: Now I have hot soup on my face and in just about every nook and cranny in my kitchen...


Including the ceiling?

Have been there before (usually with tomato sauce). Not fun!
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Re: RCP: Mourad's Carrot Soup with Citrus Salad

by Jenise » Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:09 pm

Jason, I feel your pain! I don't think I've quite had my face in hot soup but just about everything else.

...speaking of stuff in your face. Yesterday I went outside to retrieve a pot of something I'd made and stored on the front porch--at this time of year, nature gives me a second refrigerator. When I bent over to get it, I noticed a green cap nearby which would have come off a can of olive oil spray that Bob would have used to lube the grates of the Pit Boss (our new charcoal BBQ). Grrrr. I didn't have a hand free so I'd have retrieved it, but I was rather irritated to see it there.

So fast foward a few hours, I'm making dinner--a rack of lamb with a vaudovan and coconut crust. I go into the pantry to get the coconut and panko which knocks--quelle coincidence!-- the uncapped can of aforementioned olive oil spray off the shelf where it nosedives onto the floor, head first, bending the nozzle into the permanently open position, activating the spray. S#!T!!! So I run the goods in my hands into the kitchen and run back to the pantry where there is now a growing pile of what looks like yellow shaving cream on the floor. I pick up the can--wrong way round of course--and proceed to get thoroughly Pammed in the face on my way to the sink. I now grab towels and sponges and run back to the pantry to address the mess on the floor. The irritation born upon finding the errant cap on the porch earlier is now a raging peeve.

Was still working on the floor and had not yet addressed the mess on me when Bob sauntered into the kitchen a few minutes later, whistling as he is wont to do, not a care in the world. The whistling halted abruptly as he took in the spectacle while I drew myself up to my full height and hissed:

CLEAN. MY. GLASSES.

I don't think he'll leave any more caps on the porch.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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