I make this soup on regular basis in the winter season, when it gets cold and dark. It’s the perfect comfort food. Lively colors of chopped vegetables (purple and orange) elevate my spirits instantly. Even my 2 year old son, who is normally very fussy with soups, eats this one with a great satisfaction. It is so easy to prepare and also inexpensive that it is almost too nice to be true. No need for a stock is another big advantage of this recipe. When I cook soups which require stock and I don’t have any, I feel pretty bad using some instant thing (even though I use a good one).
But let’s start from the beginning: I was literally digging out some carrots with my bare hands, just a few weeks ago, when I was visiting some friends in Dyssekilde - en ecovillage in North Sjaelland. It is a lovely little oases inhabited by around 200 people who share their passion for healthy lifestyle, ecology and close to nature living in general. Place itself is really hip with its colorful folks and cool eco-architecture.
Anyway, so there I was, in the open field, in the end of November, pulling carrots from the cold soil, in a freezing and windy afternoon. This down to earth gardening experience inspired me to include carrots little bit more in my cooking this season.
Yes! The carrot season is also now! Not only in the spring, when supermarkets starts to sell appealing long and skinny new carrots with their green tops on. The truth is that locally grown carrots are in season from spring to late fall, when they are the freshest and most flavorful.
We don’t think about it a lot, as they are available throughout the year in every supermarket. It is just a carrot after all, not a sophisticated and pricey early asparagus, not even a modest pumpkin which everybody is so devoted to every autumn. Unpretentious carrot is a veg left alone with no special enthusiasm or celebration.
Here, in the recipe below, is my gratitude: the quintessence of the carrot brought to you in a form of an old good carrot soup, with a modern spicy twist. Honestly, this soup, you are about to cook, tastes heavenly. It gives you much more oral pleasure than you expect from this vegetable ;)
800 g carrots
1 medium red onion
2 tbsp ground coriander
15 green cardamom pods
handful of pine nuts
4 tbsp olive oil
cilantro leaves, washed, stems removed
salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Wash and peel the carrots, slice roughly (1 cm thick slices will do). Chop the onion.
2. Remove the seeds from cardamom pods, grind them in mortar. Avoid using commercially ground cardamom, because once the seeds are ground they quickly lose their aroma; by all means - do the job yourself!
3. Heat the olive oil and cook the chopped onion on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the ground coriander and cardamom. Let cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes so the spices develop.
5. Add the sliced carrots. Cook for 3-4 minutes. In a meantime bring full kettle of water to boil. Pour the hot water over the carrots, so it barely covers them. Season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer until the carrots are tender (about 30-40 min).
6. When the soup cools down a bit mix your soup finely with a handheld blender. If the soup is too thick according to your taste just add more hot water. I like my carrot soup creamy and thick. Check the seasoning.
7. Toast the pine nuts on the dry frying pan until they are golden.
8. Decorate with lots of cilantro and freshly toasted pine nuts. Enjoy.
The truth about β-carotene
Almost everybody knows that carrot gets its characteristic bright orange color from β-carotene, which humans can metabolize into vitamin A. That is excellent news. We all know that vitamins are good for health, especially the ones that come directly from fruits and vegetables. Not everybody knows however, that if you eat a raw carrot only 3% of the β-carotene is released to our bodies during digestion. On the contrary, if you cook and pulp carrots with some oil, this number increases up to 39%!
If you like carrots try my carrot cake recipe.