The weather here in Omaha is on the fence. It doesn’t know what it wants. Sunny? Overcast? Chilly? Rainy? Make up your mind already and move on! Yes, it is Spring, but my brain wants nonstop sunny weather. Anyway, I woke up the other morning unsure of what to make for that night’s dinner. I knew I had some things going on during the day, so standing over the stove for hours wasn’t an option. I wanted something fresh, something Spring-like, something easy.
After my day’s activities, I stopped at the market. Wandering around the produce section, I spotted some bright orange carrots. They were exactly what the overcast day called for. I thought, “Well, I could roast these and maybe have pork chops or something on the side.” But I wanted to do something more with them. Carrots are an under-utilized vegetable, if you ask me. They have a natural sweetness that comes out during the roasting process, but I didn’t want to stop there.
Soup. I came up with soup. Sounds boring, right? Or weird, maybe? Well, you’d be wrong on both accounts. This soup was easily one of the tastiest vegetable-centered dishes to come out of my kitchen. I could hardly believe it! Not that it was without faults, but those aside, it was hearty, spicy, a little sweet, and totally satisfying.
This recipe was also just enough for Scott and I to have dinner and then leftovers the following day for lunch. It reheated on the stove quite nicely and paired well with a sliced baguette and salted butter.
Roasted Carrot Soup
**You’ll need an immersion blender or regular blender for this soup.
1 1/2 – 2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds or half-moons
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
cracked black pepper
1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced lengthwise and then into half-moons
3 large shallots, chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons ginger paste
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake (adjust if you like it a little spicier)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 quart chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you want to go vegetarian)
Heat oven to 400ºF. Place carrots in a medium bowl and drizzle evenly with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper and kosher salt. Toss with your hands so the carrots are evenly coated and turn out onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and set aside.
When carrots are done, heat remaining 1 tablespoon in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add shallots and leek to pan, sprinkle with kosher salt and cracked black pepper and sauté until tender, 6 to 8 minutes, stirring often. Be mindful not to burn the shallots and leeks, adjust heat if necessary.
Add minced garlic and ginger paste, stir well. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in crushed red pepper flake, ground cumin, and ground coriander and stir until fragrant. Add sherry vinegar and honey, stir into mixture. Add roasted carrots and chicken stock.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow it to simmer for at least 15 minutes. Use an immersion blender or regular blender to purée. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil. A dollop of crème fraîche or some chopped fresh cilantro would be lovely, as well.