Sometimes I feel for the humble carrot, the perennial bridesmaid of the vegetable world, never the centre of attention and always the backup singer or the support act. Don’t get me wrong, its presence is always valuable and needed but it just doesn’t have the same star quality as others. In my world anyway. But at least it’s not alone in the shadows; the poor celery comes off way worse in the popularity stakes don’t you think? I should really stop role playing psych 101 with my vegetables…
So somehow, little ol’ me ended up with kilos of carrots. I could’ve churned out a hip-bursting amount of carrot cake but I was in a mood for something a little more, wholesome? I’ve never made carrot the star in any of my soup ensembles but with my crisper overflowing, it was the perfect time to put it in the spotlight. Especially when I had this recipe bookmarked for ages.
As with a lot of my soups, roasting the veges first is important to bring out the natural caramelised sweetness. Oh and that toasted flatbread? Awesome, especially with the subtle sweet aniseed flavour of the fennel seeds amongst flakes of pink sea salt. I’ve been toasting up the rest of my batch of flatbreads to a earth-shattering crisp with different flavours like smokey paprika and cayenne pepper. It makes a great snack in a pinch when a bag of chips is nowhere to be seen.
I still adore my hearty winter food especially soups like these but there was something about it that screamed freshness, which might explain the slightly more Spring-like mood in the photos here. Or perhaps I’m just itching for September to roll around. Either way, this has put me in a fine frolicking mood.
Roasted Carrot Soup with Toasted Fennel Seed Flatbread
1kg of carrots
A few sprigs of thyme
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tsp ground fennel
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1.25 litre of vegetable stock
2-3 large slices of flatbread (or Lebanese bread)
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Sour cream or crème fraiche to serve
Preheat oven to 220°C and line a roasting tray with baking paper. Roughly peel (optional) and chop carrots into 2cm chunks and place them in the tray. Drizzle over about 2 tablespoons (30ml) of olive oil, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper and toss to coat. Scatter over sprigs of thyme and bake for about 45 minutes until carrots are golden and tender. Remove from oven and set aside.
To make the flatbread ‘crackers’, brush the bread with olive oil and scatter over some fennel seeds, sea salt flakes and cracked pepper to taste. Place it on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 5 minutes or until golden and crispy. Remove from oven, allow to cool and break into pieces.
In a pot over medium high, heat up another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and tip in the chopped onions and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes until vegetables have softened and started to colour.
Add the ground spices and stir through. Cook for a minute until fragrant.
Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the roasted carrots and simmer for about 5-10 minutes.
In two batches, purée the soup in a blender until completely pulverised. Tip back into a clean pot and warm through. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste with salt and pepper. Feel free to use a hand blender if you wish but personally I prefer the blender to get the soup as smooth as possible.
Serve soup warm with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche, torn parsley leaves and toasted flatbread.
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller