It was a combination of aching teeth (after my latest orthodontic visit) and the fact that I was still drooling over those stunningly coloured, roasted carrots from the Ripe Market the other week, that lead me to this Roasted Carrot Soup for lunch. And you know, it was so good that I forgot the dental discomfort. For a while.
Sometimes with a winner of a dish, gorgeousness is easy to predict. You can pretty much guarantee, for example, that anything containing 200g of great chocolate is going to taste insanely good. But sometimes it’s all about great combinations and this Roasted Carrot Soup with yoghurt & dukkah is a perfect example of that.
The soup itself is simple – roast some carrots until they are soft, golden and caramelized, and then blitz with vegetable stock until smooth and velvety. The taste is beautifully sweet and rich, while the colour is, of course, as orange as it gets.
But this dish is primarily about great combinations. A blob of plain yoghurt on the top just before serving will balance the sweetness with its sharp creaminess. And then the finale? A sprinkle of texture and smoky spices from some dukkah. Subtle flavour and a touch of crunch.
Dukkah, in case this is a new one for you, is an Egyptian seed, nut and spice dip. Traditionally it’s made with cumin, coriander, sesame seeds and hazelnuts. Roast them, allow to cool, then crush in a spice grinder or pound in a mortar and pestle. Job done. You can also buy the dukkah ready-made if that suits you better.
The ingredients are interchangeable – almonds, pistachios, fennel, chilli, cayenne – whatever you like, but the end result is always a dry mix with enough texture not to be ‘dust’ and a glorious blend of flavours. Dip some flatbread into olive oil and then into the dukkah and the dry spices will stick to form a beautiful, subtle crust.
So, here I’ve used it as a sprinkle garnish but this recipe will make enough for you to use it for some dunking too. Oh and sprinkling it over avocado on toast is also SO good. Plus I thought I might try it as a crunchy coating for some grilled chicken strips. So many options. Store it in an airtight jar and it will keep well for at least a week.
And so here’s why you’re going to be raving about this soup –
- It doesn’t get any easier than this one. Just resist pinching too many of the roasted carrots before you blitz them. Tricky, I know.
- This really is a ‘beautiful inside and out’ dish. Looks good. Tastes even better.
- Perfect for a mid-week dinner and any leftovers are ideal as a packed lunch.
- Skip the yoghurt and the dukkah if your little ones are less adventurous and this becomes a great soup for the children.
- It’s impressive enough to serve for a fancy dinner – perhaps as a starter. Try using cute, little cups instead of bowls for even more impact.
- And each part of it can be prepared ahead of time. We like that.
So, I’m off to nurse my aching teeth while you go and knock up this yummy soup. Enjoy!
- For the dukkah -
- ½ cup unsalted, shelled pistachios
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon whole peppercorns, I used pink
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- For the soup -
- 900g (2lb) carrots, cut into 2½cm (1 inch) pieces (no need to peel them)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- 750ml-1l vegetable stock (1¼-1¾ pints), depending on how thick you prefer the soup
- For the garnish -
- Thick, plain yoghurt - I used Greek
- Toast the pistachios in a dry frying pan on a low heat. You will need to stir occasionally, but also keep a close eye on how quickly the nuts are colouring. They will burn in the blink of an eye. It will probably take 3-4 minutes and you want them to be golden brown. Transfer the nuts to a plate and allow to cool.
- Now using the same pan (no need to wash it) add the sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and peppercorns. Toast, stirring often until the spices are fragrant. This will probably take 1-2 minutes. Tip the spices onto the plate to join the nuts and allow everything to cool completely.
- Transfer the nut and spice mixture and ½ teaspoon salt to a mini food processor or a mortar and pestle and coarsely grind. The dukkah can be made ahead of time and be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about a week.
- Now make the soup. Preheat the oven to 220°C, 425°F (gas mark 7).
- Toss the carrots with the olive oil in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Now spread the carrots in one layer on a rimmed baking tray. Roast until the carrots are tender and becoming golden brown.
- Transfer the carrots to a blender and add most of the vegetable stock, keeping some back so that you can adjust the consistency to suit your taste. Blend the mixture until the soup is smooth and velvety.
- Before you serve the soup, pour it into a saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until it is piping hot. Add water a little at a time if the consistency is still too thick.
- Check the seasoning and garnish with a blob of yoghurt and a sprinkle of dukkah.