Amazing carrot soup

For years carrot soup has been one of those things that I love to order in restaurants, and then was always sort of a let down when I tried to make it at home. It turned out bland, chunky, and boring, nothing like the delicately spiced concoction the chefs around town produce.

Then while standing in line at Flour Bakery one day last week, I started perusing the display copy of the Flour Too cookbook. In it is a recipe for carrot soup, in which Joanne Chang calls for roasting the carrots before putting them into the soup to bring out their natural sweetness. It was such a simple and obvious act, and yet it had never occurred to me. The next night, I peeled, cut and roasted three pounds of carrots to make soup with.

Life being life, I didn’t have time to make the soup all at once. Instead, I roasted the carrots one night and made soup the next. I also didn’t have the celery or fennel that Chang calls for in her recipe, so I improvised, using what I could remember from another carrot soup recipe given to me by a friend a few months ago. That recipe called for soaking a cup of cashews in boiling water and then adding them to the soup. The cashews really add heartiness, elevating it from a side to an actual meal.

While I usually rely on my immersion blender for soups like this, it takes a long time to get it as smooth as I’d like. So I dumped it into my trusty blender and had otto the desired consistency in a matter of seconds rather than minutes.

Carrot soup
Makes five, 2-cup servings

1 cup cashews
1 cup boiling water
3 lb carrots, peeled and cut into coins
2 Tb olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 small granny smith apple, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2-inch piece of ginger peeled and chopped finely
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 Tb ground ginger
1 Tb curry powder
1, 15 oz can evaporated milk OR 2 cups almond milk
salt and pepper to taste

Boil one cup of water and add 1 cup unsalted cashews to it. Let soak at least an hour, or as long as overnight.

Heat oven to 375 and arrange carrots on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in oven 25 to 30 minutes, or until carrots are tender.

While carrots roast, prep onion, garlic, apple, and ginger.

When carrots are done, heat a Tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and thyme and cook until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally. Add apple, gingers, curry powder, carrots and stock and bring to a boil. Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Let simmer at least 30 minutes. Transfer soup to a blender, or use an immersion blender to puree soup. Add evaporated milk or almond milk, if desired. If mixture is too thick, add a bit more stock or water as you blend.

Garnish with chopped nut, yogurt, or flavored oils, if you want. Though it’s just as good on it’s own.

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