RECIPE: Carrot soup with toasted pecans
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This is what I have learned from testing carrot soup recipes: Even folks who really like carrots sometimes will pause at a pureed bowlful in which that vegetable is the star ingredient.
That includes people who enjoy carrots raw but not cooked, and those who are underwhelmed by the texture and/or flavor of pureed carrots.
You often find carrot soup flavored with ginger, and its texture tempered with dairy.
A little garlic, judicious use of spices and coconut milk make the difference here, with no discernible coconut taste.
I think it could even serve as a base for a minestrone-type vegetable soup, if you happen to have leftover cooked veg on hand.
(Makes 4 cups)
½ medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tbs unsalted butter
¾ tsp kosher salt
450g carrots (no tops)
½ cup canned coconut milk or milk
3 cups water
½ cup pecan halves
1 tsp ground cumin (may substitute ground coriander)
1 tsp celery seed
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp whole black peppercorns
Sour cream or plain Greek yoghurt, for serving
Cut the onion into 1cm pieces. Peel and mince the garlic.
Melt the butter in a deep pot over medium-low heat. Stir in the onion, garlic and ½ teaspoon of the salt; cover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onion has softened.
Meanwhile, scrub the carrots well, then trim and cut them into thin rounds.
Increase the heat to medium; stir in the carrots, milk and water. Once the liquid begins to bubble at the edges, cover and cook for 20 minutes, until the carrots become tender.
While the carrots are cooking, toast the pecans in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned.
Transfer to a cutting board to cool; coarsely chop them, if desired. Add the cumin, celery seed, crushed red pepper flakes and black peppercorns to the skillet; toast for a few minutes until fragrant, then pour into a dedicated spice grinder or use a mortar and pestle to crush and blend them.
Uncover the pot and add all but a pinch of the toasted, crushed spices; use an immersion (stick) blender to purée the mixture into a smooth soup. Stir in the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.
Divide among individual bowls. Garnish with the remaining toasted spices, a dollop or swirl of sour cream or yoghurt and the toasted pecans.