Yes, it’s soup time. It may be unseasonably warm for this time of year but as far as I’m concerned – being a summer loving person – we’ve reached winter. Working from home, I like to have easy – but healthy – quick lunches on hand. During the summer it’s usually some kind of salad, easily put together with things like rocket, spinach, avocados, tomatoes, maybe some grated carrot or chopped fennel; then cheese perhaps, broken over the top: feta, mozzarella or Comte. And, of course, a slice of gorgeous sourdough bread from Ruben’s Bakehouse. If the bread is a couple of days old, I lightly toast it and drizzle over a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil. Come winter though, I prefer to have some warming soups to hand and so make batches of soup for my freezer, which I freeze in individual portions.
Last week I made some Roast Squash & Tomato Soup, which is one of my favourites, but pondering on how roasting the vegetables adds such a wonderful deep and earthy flavour, I thought about what else I might roast for soup. Years ago I used to often cook carrots with orange juice and ginger. I can’t remember where the recipe came from but it was very delicious. I decided to put these flavours into a soup. Now carrots are going to be the star of this soup so you really do need to buy some organic ones, preferably still attached to their leafy tops. My first conversion to organic foods – many years ago – was tasting an organic carrot. Wow! It tasted like ‘carrots used to taste’, completely different to the tasteless specimens sold in packets in the supermarket. But I find even organic carrots that have been washed and packaged by supermarkets lose some of their flavour and so I prefer to buy them with tops still on and a bit of earthy soil visible, which fortunately are readily available at my local Waitrose or, of course, the farmers’ market.
For the soup, I cut the tops from the carrots (400g) and scrubbed them clean, but don’t peel. Chop them into fairly big pieces; I cut each carrot into about 4 pieces. Put into a large ovenproof pan. Now roughly chop half a large onion or a medium one and add that to the pan.
Chop 1 stick of celery. Cut about a 1-inch slice from a piece of fresh ginger, peel and slice into about 3 pieces. Now grate the zest from half an orange. I didn’t have an orange so used a couple of clementines but their peel is harder to zest and an orange would have been better.
Add them all to the pan and season well with salt and pepper. Pour over a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil and then mix it all together with your hands.
Put into a 200C/180 Fan oven for about 40 minutes, giving them a stir halfway through so the edges don’t burn. Test the carrots are cooked through with a small sharp knife then put on top of the stove. Pour over hot stock or water until the vegetables are covered and stir well, scraping any bits of vegetable stuck to the bottom of the pan in the roasting process.
Bring to a boil and bubble gently for about 5 minutes. Now whisk with a hand blender till smooth. If it’s still a bit thick – though I like it fairly thick – add more hot water or stock to get the right consistency. Check seasoning. To serve, add a little natural yogurt (or cream, if you prefer) on top of the soup with some finely chopped fresh coriander, that goes wonderfully with carrots.
It was really delicious. There was a good ginger and orange flavour but neither overpowered the sweet carrots, which is just as it should be. The carrots shone through but with an added little twist of the warming ginger and citrusy orange. It was beautifully comforting on a wet Saturday for lunch and there was enough for 4 portions so I had 3 more to go into my freezer for another day.