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.
Thus far, this soup has passed muster with a sampling of carrot soup skeptics.
Don’t skip toasting the pecans, which complement the carrots’ sweetness.
Servings: 2 to 3 (makes about 4 cups)
1/2 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound carrots (no tops)
1/2 cup canned coconut milk or whole milk (see NOTE)
3 cups water
1/2 cup pecan halves
1 teaspoon ground cumin (may substitute ground coriander)
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, for serving
Cut the onion into 1/2-inch dice. Peel and mince the garlic.
Melt the butter in a deep pot over medium-low heat. Stir in the onion, garlic and 1/2 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 puree the mixture into a smooth soup. Stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Divide among individual bowls. Garnish with the remaining toasted spices, a dollop or swirl of sour cream or yogurt and the toasted pecans.
NOTE: If you’re using coconut milk, you may want to first transfer the can’s contents to a container and homogenize it with an immersion (stick) blender or use a regular blender.
Based on a recipe from “Cooking in the Moment,” by Andrea Reusing (Clarkson Potter, 2011).
NUTRITION: The nutritional analysis is based on 3 servings, using coconut milk.Calories: 330; Total Fat: 28 g; Saturated Fat: 13 g; Cholesterol: 20 mg; Sodium: 400 mg; Carbohydrates: 21 g; Dietary Fiber: 7 g; Sugars: 4 g; Protein: 9 g.