I was in Chicago last weekend for a friend’s birthday/graduation party. In between all the planned events, I was able to fit in several delightful meals, including one at Birchwood, in Ukranian Village. Our host and hostess, Davis and Laura, had their rehearsal dinner there. They also have a killer brunch.
I ordered a Croque Vert, which was a version of a Croque Madame, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with egg on top, but with veggies instead of ham. While we were waiting for our food we were curious about the translation of the dish. Turns out that “croque” means crunch in French, indicating the bread is grilled. There’s also a Croque Monsieur (i.e. Mr. Crunch) which is the same as Croque Madame (Mrs. Crunch!) but without the egg…Some good trivia for your next brunch date.
Also at this delightful brunch, I tried a cup of Carrot Ginger Apple soup. It was spicy from ginger and also possibly from some red pepper flakes. The sweet apple and carrot cooled it down. It was served warm and very chunky – I think they even left the apple peels on – which gave it a wholesome, rustic texture. I did my best to recreate the soup here, with great results! The only thing I’d differently is to make it a bit chunkier.
Carrot Apple Ginger Soup
Yield: 6 cups
Prep Time: 15
Cook Time: 20
Total Time: 35 minutes
I served this soup with roasted fish and rice pilaf. It would be delicious with a simple grilled sandwich (a la Croque Madame!), or a tasty salad.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped in 1-inch pieces
1 parsnip, peeled and diced (you could swap a sweet potato or just add more carrots if you wanted)
2 medium apples (I used Granny Smith), diced
1 rib celery, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth (can substitute chicken)
1-inch piece of ginger, sliced thin
3/4 cup apple sauce (I used sweetened because I had it, but unsweetened would also work)
salt and pepper
fresh parsley, chopped (cilantro would probably also be delish)
Heat medium saucepan over medium high heat. When pan is warm, add olive oil. Once oil shimmers, add onion and saute until translucent, 6-7 minutes. Add garlic and chile flakes and saute until garlic is fragrant, about 2 minute.
Add carrots, parsnip, apples, celery, broth and ginger, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer over medium heat with lid cracked until vegetables are cooked through but not mushy, about 20 minutes.
Using an immersion blender (aka stick blender) carefully blend soup until desired consistency is achieved. (I like mine rather chunky!) Stir in apple sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.