The often overlooked carrot; it rarely gets its day in the spotlight. You’ll find it in most classic stocks and it is a great vehicle for getting French onion dip into your mouth. It is often playing the supporting role and being used to bolster the main ingredient. But a roasted carrot takes on a much more complex flavor- an earthy, dark, caramelized sweetness.
I found my refrigerator overstocked with carrots this week. I bought a variety of vegetables to throw into a dehydrator I got for Christmas and grabbed way too many carrots. The inspiration for making this dish actually started from at the garnish when I saw the bunches of vibrant green carrot tops sticking out of the refrigerator drawer – my recipes often develop backwards, with an interesting garniture in mind followed by the main dish the garniture would finish. The carrot leaves are bitter, herbaceous and a bit carroty, I decided to use them as I would parsley and make a gremolata. A gremolata is a traditional Italian garnish or condiment made with parsley, garlic and lemon zest. The ingredients are all placed on the cutting board at the same time and combined while being chopped. I decided to add in ginger and lime zest because the two go very well with carrots.
The soup is simple and effective- roasted carrots, onions, ginger, thyme, honey and vegetable stock. In this recipe, I make my own stock and I make it very carrot heavy to use exclusively in this soup. If you want to skip this step, you can buy two quarts of low sodium vegetable stock.
Also, read the whole recipe before starting. There will be several things working at once to make efficient use of time.
Roasted Carrot Soup ~Serves 6 – 8
300g onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
150g celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
300g carrot, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
10 whole black peppercorn
A small handful of parsley with stem
3 qt cold water
600g carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
400g yellow onion, diced
20g ginger, peeled and diced
1 sprig thyme
2 qt vegetable stock
1/8 cup honey
Salt to taste
30g carrot tops, about the weight from one bunch picked from thick stem, thoroughly washed and dried
5g ginger, peeled and grated through Microplane
10g garlic, peeled and grated through Microplane
Zest of 2 limes
Zest of 1 lemons
Juice of 2 limes
– Preheat oven to 425°F
– Heat up a heavy stock pot with oil and saute onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Sweat for 10 minutes but do not brown
– Add thyme, bay leaf, black peppercorn, parsley, and water
– Bring up to boil and let slowly simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally
– Strain and reserve
– Meanwhile, combine 600g carrots with oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss until carrots are evenly coated. Use only enough oil to coat
– Place carrots on a sheet tray lined with parchment or a silpat and place in oven
– Roast until carrots are nicely browned and soft throughout – about 45 minutes. Rotate and flip carrots every 15 minutes to ensure even cook
– Meanwhile, make the gremolata by combining carrot tops, grated ginger, grated garlic, lime zest and lemon zest
– With a sharp knife, cut the carrot top finely while incorporating the rest of the ingredients
– Refrigerate until ready to use
– In a stock pot, prepare the soup by sauting the 400g diced onion on medium heat until brown, about 8-10 minutes
– Add ginger, thyme, and one quart of the vegetable stock. Bring liquid up to a boil and let simmer low for 10 minutes.
– Remove from heat and add honey and roasted carrots
– Now its time to puree the soup. If you are using a stick blender you can blend right away. If you are using a stand blender, make sure you let the soup cool. Hot liquids in a blender at best leads to a messy kitchen and at worst leads to serious burns. You will also need to blend in small batches. Even with the extra work, I recommend the stand blender for a smoother puree. I also recommend passing the soup through a fine chinois for the same reason but that’s optional
– Once you have the soup pureed, return back to a pot and bring to a boil. Adjust to desired thickness using the rest of the vegetable stock. I ended up using the two full quarts
– Season with salt to taste. Don’t skimp on the salt!
– When ready to serve, put a small spoonful of gremolata per serving into a small bowl and mix with a dash of lime juice, a drizzle of olive oil and a small pinch of Maldon salt
– Garnish hot soup with the gremolata mix and serve immediately. Hot soup waits for no one!
– Bonus – I served the soup with a side of thick cut grilled challah bread. Toasting would also work, as would using any other sweet and/or eggy breads.
Results – The soup was very ginger forward but it may be what you’re looking for. The roasted carrots provide most of the complexity so take the effort to roast the carrots right. The gremolata itself was an interesting thought. The carrot top gives off tannin-y mouthfeel which some people may not like. The lime juice really helped boost the gremolata and the olive oil helped with the tannin, but I guess I made more of an herb citronette at this point.
Afterthoughts – Back to the ginger – think about halving it to 10 grams. I think the best taste would be a carrot forward spoonful with a lingering gingery heat at the end. Another thought may be to add ginger into the original stock which will get strained out with the rest of the vegetables.
The color of the soup can also be brighter. One solution may be to only sweat the 400 grams onion instead of browning, but will change flavor.