(Preparation and cooking time, about 2 hours; makes 2 quarts)
Last month, traveling with friends up the Danube River on a Viking River Cruise we had some great meals in the different cities and towns that were on the tour. One such meal was at St. Peter Stiftskeller, the restaurant of St. Peter’s Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in the heart of Salzburg, Austria.
The restaurant bills itself as the oldest one in Europe, having served travelers for more that 1200 years. The décor was just what you would expect, cozy and inviting. It was, in all, a serendipitous discovery, the service was impeccable and the food was outstanding. If you go to Salzburg, do not miss it.
The weather that day was rainy and chilly and the first course, a bowl of outstanding carrot-ginger soup was the perfect antidote. Our waiter was kind enough to inform us of the main ingredients, but would not share the proportions or and other directions. We served this soup as a first course on Thanksgiving this year, having re-constructed it by trial and error. I think this very closely matches St. Peter’s Stiftskeller Carrot-Ginger Soup. Gut Essen!
2 lbs. of carrots, peeled and sliced into ½ inch disks
1 bulb of fennel (anise) trimmed, halved and quartered
2 quarts of vegetable stock
3 Tbsps. of caramelized ginger*
• 3 Tbsps. unsalted butter
• A 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine in a mini food processor.
8 oz. of Crème Fraîche
1. Place the carrots and fennel in a 5-quart pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook on high until carrots are fork tender.
2. Transfer the carrots and fennel to a food processor in batches, pulse until finely chopped. Dump the water from the pot and return the chopped carrots and fennel to the pot.
3. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by about ¼, approximately 30 minutes.
4. With a large slotted spoon, transfer the solids, in batches, to a blender, add a few scoops of the stock and puree until smooth.
5. Add the caramelized ginger and puree again.
6. Return the pureed vegetables to the stock, whisk well and bring to a boil on low heat.
7. Whisk in the crème fraîche and heat thoroughly.
8. Serve hot, or let cool and refrigerate overnight.
For the caramelized ginger:
1. Melt 3 Tbsps. of unsalted butter in a non-stick skillet.
2. Add 3 Tbsps. of chopped ginger and cook on medium heat until well caramelized.