Last week, after nine years of co-habitation, Jay and I finally took a big step.
We got our knives professionally sharpened.
Some tasks get put off indefinitely, and it isn’t until a hip kiosk opens near your yoga studio that you realize how much time has passed. So many squashed tomatoes, bruised herbs, and mutilated fruit over the years; I get misty-eyed just thinking about it. (Or maybe that’s the onions…)
Speaking of onions, they are another reason to get your knives sharpened, as a sharp knife slices through an onion’s cells more cleanly, releasing fewer sulphuric acids to burn your eyes.
But perhaps the best reason to get a new lease on the lives of your knives at Bernal Cutlery is that delicious experiences await you while you, er, wait. Pique your appetite as you sniff your way through the spice and herb blends at Spice Hound. Treat yourself to an egg cream and a rueben at Paulie’s Pickling, a Jewish Deli counter that gives the Wise Sons a run for their gelt. And don’t pass over the pickles – the half sours are to die for. (I’m Jewish, I can make these bad puns, ok?)
If you need to work off all those goodies, get your asana into Bernal Yoga for some stretches and twists; though you may not be able to pass up a buttery scone or croissant from Sandbox Bakery on your way back.
When we’d wrapped up our Bernal Heights shenanigans and got our knives home and unwrapped, we found them even sharper than when we’d first bought them, with a perfect, gleaming new edge on each steel blade. They make chopping sturdy root vegetables a whole new pleasure, which may or may not be why I’ve made this soup three times in the past two weeks.
The other reason I’ve made so much of this soup is that it is darn good – an ideal meal for a chilly fall evening. At its essence a traditional carrot ginger soup, it packs a few exotic punches. Floral ginger and coconut milk mingle with earthy, sweet carrots and grounding curry spices. A squeeze of lime and some fresh cilantro leaves brighten the flavors. Creamy potatoes and a pour of rich coconut milk create a smooth and luxurious texture that prevents you from feeling in any way deprived. And all this deliciousness just happens to be vegan, to boot.
Best of all, it’s super simple to put together. In other words, you don’t have to be the sharpest knife in the drawer. (Though having one wouldn’t hurt.)
Cuckoo for curry:
One year ago:
Two years ago:
Three years ago:
Mugolio (pine cone bud extract) Ice Cream (Incidentally, I discovered mugolio at Avedano’s, the butcher shop next door to Bernal Cutlery)
Curried Carrot Soup, with Ginger and Coconut Milk
This soup is all about the carrots, so use the freshest, sweetest, smallest ones you can find. The soup keeps beautifully, its bright color kept in tact and flavors developing over a day or two in the fridge. In fact, I’d recommend making it at least an hour or two ahead to give the flavors a chance to meld. Extra cilantro can be used up in Avocado Tomatillo Salsa or Cilantro Pepita Pesto.
Makes 6 main course-sized servings
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/2 pounds (about 2 bunches) carrots, peeled and chopped (4 cups)
3/4 pound yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped (2 cups)
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
5 cups water (or a mild, unsalted vegetable stock)
1(13.5 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk, 1/4 cup reserved for garnish
juice of 1 lime, to taste
cilantro leaves, for garnish
Heat the oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the onions, ginger and curry powder and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender, 10-15 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, salt and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are very tender, 25-30 minutes. Remove from the heat and add most of the coconut milk, reserving 1/4 cup for garnish.
Cool the soup slightly, then puree smooth with an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender or food processor). Add lime juice to taste – it should brighten the flavors without standing out on its own – and more salt if needed (sourness magically diminishes saltiness, so you’ll want to add more salt as you add more lime).
Heat the soup gently, stirring, until it is steaming but not bubbling so as not to curdle the coconut milk, and taste again for balance and seasoning. Ladle hot soup into bowls, swirl in some of the reserved coconut milk, and garnish with cilantro leaves.
The soup keeps well, refrigerated, for up to 4 days.