I must have had dozens of carrot soups. Perhaps it is not encouraging that I distinctly can’t remember any of them. Carrots seemed like a rather obvious choice for a penny stretching dish. Though they are readily available and uniformly cheap, they can also be mediocre and forgettable. I’ve been playing around with a couple of techniques to try to wring an exciting flavor out of this humble root vegetable. I tried cooking the carrots in a number of different ways before settling on my old standby favorite for root vegetables: roasting. Then there was the question of how to best fit these (now quite tasty) carrots into a soup.

I’ve found that my favorite soups often have at least two parts. The pesto stirred in just as you serve a pesto soup gives a brightness and bite to what would otherwise be a rather plain vegetable soup. Spice infused cream provides a subtle and sweet counterpoint to my favorite autumn chestnut soup. And who can resist the charms of sour cream, cheese and crumbled tortilla chips on a spicy black bean soup? I think that these toppings and additions are so appealing because they offer contrast. The often long cooking time of a soup can tend to give it a boiled, warm homey character; comforting but one dimensional. But add a little bit of bite and texture contrast and: voila! You have a soup worth writing about. For this recipe, I seasoned the roasted carrots two ways. A scoop of the fresh, zesty marinated carrots is served atop each bowl of rich, roasted carrot soup


Yield:

5 servings

Ingredients:

Carrots (about 10, any variety)
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 potato, peeled and cut into large cubes
6-7 sage leaves
3-4 bay leaves
salt
pepper
brown sugar
olive oil

1/2 cup vegetable broth (substitute with water if you don’t have any)
water

Roast the carrots:

Peel and cut the tops off all your carrots. Place all of your vegetables in a baking pan. Sprinkle liberally with salt, brown sugar, and pepper. Scatter a few sage and bay leaves in the tray. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover the pan with tin foil and poke a bunch of holes in it. Roast at 350 until the vegetables are cooked through, but still firm (you can test the texture of a carrot by inserting a paring knife, it should offer some resistance but still yield fairly easily to the knife). It will likely take 45 min-1 hour for the vegetables to cook.

Puree the Soup:

Set aside three carrots for the relish. Place all of the other roasted vegetables in a blender with broth and two cups of water. Puree until smooth. Add water until you have the desired texture. Adjust salt to taste.

Serve: Pour soup into bowls and serve with a scoop of carrot relish.

Carrot Relish

3 roasted carrots
the juice from half of a lemon
a tablespoon chopped Italian Parsley
a quarter of a red onion, finely chopped
salt

Dice the carrot and onion. Mince the parsley. Add salt and lemon juice to taste. Let the carrots sit and marinate for about 20 minutes before serving.

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