The return from the holiday season in the U.S. to our regular rhythm has set in quietly (albeit, as always, a bit too soon). I’m finding comfort in the routines. Early alarms and dark morning walks to the gym again define the start to my days and simple dinners at our kitchen counter conclude them.
Despite this peaceful return to the normalcy of everyday, I can’t help but feel a sense of unsettledness. Perhaps it’s the turn of the page on the calendar or even the subtle transition has cooled the air in our hot city, but I’m restless over something I cannot pin down. I have the sense that there is something I have overlooked – that feeling you get when you know there is a bill unpaid or an appointment missed. In search of a cure, I cleaned out cabinets and scanned checklists. I arrived at work early this week, ready to tackle some unproclaimed, lurking task. But still, the feeling lingers.
I am not one who tends to resolve to make big changes in January, although I embrace the sense of a fresh start. Instead, for me, January is a month for simplifying, slowing down, and embracing the familiar. Perhaps I’ll find that unpaid bill or missed appointment and feel a sense of relief, but I’m not holding my breath. I suspect it is something bigger. I am hopeful that it will be something extraordinary.
In the meantime, I’m loving that familiar, brushing our teeth, reading books on the couch, kitchen-counter-dinner rhythm. I’m loving this place, with its IKEA bar stools and dishes piled in the sink, that Frank and I are simply ourselves, simply content to be embraced into the folds of the everyday.
Maybe was always a foregone conclusion after two years of living in Thailand, but I submit that everything is made better with coconut milk. Soups in this country are remarkable things, intensely flavored with rich broths, fresh spices, and often, with sweet, creamy coconut milk. The fresh stuff has consistently proven to be an odyssey for me to obtain, but I keep the infinitely more accessible store-bought variety in my pantry all the time. It makes me think that veganism wouldn’t be half bad. I’d take coconut milk over the dairy version just about any day of the week.
I made carrot soup twice last week. The first version was pretty standard – a bit of cumin, but no cream or milk. It was good, and we ate every last spoonful, but it left me wanting more. Something with the slightest indication of heat and even more fragrant spice to complement the carrots. Something with coconut milk. The carrots really found their groove in this version of the soup. It was a subtle shift that made a huge difference. And don’t miss those pepitas (pumpkin seeds) on top – they are toasty and crunchy and pretty, to boot.
- 1 Tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 2.5 pounds carrots, diced
- 1 regular yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. yellow curry powder (see note)
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- ⅔ cup light coconut milk
- Juice squeezed from ½ small lime
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Plain yogurt, for topping (optional)
- Place a soup pot over medium heat. Heat 1 tsp. olive oil and add the pepitas. Cook the pepitas, stirring frequently, until they turn golden and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Transfer the pepitas to a paper towel to cool. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Return the pot to the burner and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add the carrots to the pot and cook until they begin to soften and look damp, about 5 minutes. Add onions, curry powder, and cayenne and sauté until the onions become soft, 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer soup to a blender in batches (or use an immersion blender in the pot) and blend until very smooth. Return the soup to the pot and heat just until it begins to bubble. Turn off the heat and add the coconut milk, lime juice, and salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately, topped with a drizzle of plain yogurt and the toasted pepitas.