Barbara Fairchild's Chocolate-Toffee Cookies
Nevin Halici's Sour Spinach

Amy Scattergood's Carrot and Pomegranate Soup

Soup_14

After self-medicating with chocolate-toffee cookies (truly a splendid way to pass the weekend), life does seem rosier. The apex of my work hysteria has been scaled, the family crisis in Italy has been defused, and Ben is no longer a hospital-bound invalid. I've also decided to be less of a glutton, so I brought in the remaining cookies to work today, where I've been watching wretchedly as the pile grows smaller and smaller with each passing hour.

Generosity can be such a chore.

In an attempt to defuse the havoc that chocolate-toffee cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner could be wreaking on my waistline and in order to feed a convalescent Ben something other than chicken broth or dry toast, I decided to make a carrot soup enlivened with pomegranate molasses that Amy Scattergood wrote about last week in her article on cooking for Rosh Hashanah.

It was my first time cooking with pomegranate molasses (found, quite cheaply, at Zabar's yesterday), though I feel like I'm about three years late to the party. Better late than never! What a find. In cooking, pomegranate molasses has the brightening effect that both lemon juice and vinegar have, but with a barely-there shimmer of exotic flavor and sweetness. I can't wait to use more of it.

The soup is quite simple - you cook onions and carrots and pomegranate molasses and cumin (though I substituted 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander, and could have used even a 1/4 teaspoon more) together until they begin to soften, then you simmer all of it in chicken stock until it's pureeable. I didn't bother straining the soup after I processed it; I just thinned it with the extra stock.

No kosher salt was needed - the chicken broth I use is salty enough - and I left off the molasses drizzle at the end, too. The soup was smooth and delicious, savory and sweet, and with a faintly acidic backnote that really made the carrot flavor pop. The pomegranate seeds on top were pretty to look at, and for a special occasion it might be fun to use them for garnish, but for every day use, I find them a bit too fussy.

It was the kind of Sunday meal, with a heel of crusty bread and a wedge of hard cheese, that I absolutely love: simple but interesting, satisfying and healthy. And as much as I enjoyed my bowl of soup for dinner, it was even better to see Ben eat it with gusto. I'm so glad he's better.

Carrot and Pomegranate Soup
Serves 4 to 6

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
4 cups coarsely chopped carrots
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses, plus extra for garnish
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups chicken stock
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

1. Heat the olive oil over moderate heat in a large heavy-bottomed stock pot. Add the onion, carrots, pomegranate molasses and cumin. Cover the pot and lower the heat. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add 3 cups of stock and simmer, covered, until the carrots are very tender, about an hour. Take off the heat and let cool.

3. Purée, in batches if necessary, in a blender, adding the final cup of stock. The purée should be very smooth; if it isn't, you may want to pour the soup through a strainer.

4. Return to the burner and heat through until hot. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Ladle the soup into soup plates, spooning extra pomegranate molasses around the center (about one-half teaspoon per bowl) and sprinkling with pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately.

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