How to make the perfect carrot and coriander soup – recipe | food

DrDon’t laugh, but there was a point in my life when carrot-cilantro soup seemed to be at the pinnacle of culinary sophistication, with rustic cardboard offering a tantalizing glimpse into a world of possibilities beyond a chunky vegetable soup with a single sprig of curly parsley as a garnish. Smitten, I ate the stuff nearly every lunchtime for months, and then, as it usually happens with such obsessions, I snapped out of it the same way I would shooters and lemonade: abruptly and decisively.

Two decades later, I fell in love again—with carrot-cilantro soup, anyway. Although my taste buds have rapidly expanded in the intervening years, it remains an intriguing blend of flavours: vegetable sweetness and grassy flavor, with a simplicity, in an age when even a cup of soup comes with 15 different flavors. Almost exotic varieties. But these days, I’d rather make my lunch than cook it in the microwave. But what is the best way to recreate the experience?

carrots

The cartridge used by the late John Tovey is “the difference between a decent soup and a surprisingly good soup.” Thumbnails by Felicity

The more, the better—a soup with a higher carrot-to-liquid ratio is proud of your carrots, not just vegan and sweet. Since carrots are almost 90% water, it pays to get a little fancy for best results. The late chef John Tovey, a familiar face to ’70s and ’80s TV viewers and big soup lovers, sweats them under a cartridge of greaseproof paper in his 1974 Good Cook’s Guide, which contains the first mention of carrot-cilantro soup I could find. I feel like you’re all eagerly skipping over this suggestion, but believe me, it’s the difference between a decent soup and a surprisingly good one.

Meanwhile, the version in the New Covent Garden Soup Co. book is finished with raw grated carrots, which I don’t recall being a feature of the original, but works well in a thinner soup, though my vision would be. Thick with carrots, I don’t think it needs extra bran: There’s just something so comforting about a thick, velvety soup on dark winter days.

coriander

Nigel Slater sneaks in a little cumin and cayenne pepper.
Nigel Slater sneaks in a little cumin and cayenne pepper.

However, this soup definitely included chopped fresh cilantro, so I’m surprised to find both Tovey’s and Nigel Slater’s recipes use the seeds, Guy Singh-Watson of Riverford purees a handful, and gardener and herbalist Jekka McVicar puts the roots alone. in her soup. unexpectedly, the best seeds; The slightly bitter, citrusy note they lend is more complex, and therefore more interesting, though, so unless you have a very powerful blender, it’s easier to grind those seeds into a powder first, rather than trying to squash them all into the pan, recommends Tovey.

You can, of course, sprinkle a few shredded leaves on top to accentuate it, but I’m going to turn it into a lively green puree, which not only looks dramatic, but also has great flavor.

Aromatics and other spices

Would you say orange juice?  Jekka McVicar's Carrot and Cilantro Soup.
Would you say orange juice? Jekka McVicar’s Carrot and Cilantro Soup.

Strictly speaking, Slater’s recipe is described as a spiced carrot soup, and he adds cumin and pepper as well, while New Covent Garden suggests a sprinkling of nutmeg, which is a good idea in a creamy soup, though I’d keep my version strictly focused on coriander.

Everyone starts their soup with onions. I chose the red kind, to support the sweetness of the carrots, but the yellow is also acceptable, while the garlic adds a welcome sharpness.

questioner

As with many vegetable soups, most recipes offer a choice of chicken or vegetable broth, the former, for meat eaters, and offer a more neutral base than many commercial vegetable variants, which taste strongly of dried herbs. Watson water works well if you don’t have either on hand, but stock will give more salty depth.

Tovey, apparently characteristically, adds a dash of sherry to the skillet, too; It’s a nice ’70s touch but, while unwelcome, I don’t think it’s absolutely essential to good results. Indeed, it is not the milk he adds with his stock, which, like the New Covent Garden Soup Co.’s single cream, only serves to soften the carrot flavour. If you want a richer result, by all means stir in some cream at the end.

Not too racist: Guy Singh-Watson's spice list is rather long.
Not too racist: Guy Singh-Watson’s spice list is rather long.

Again, I’ve kept my recipe as closely as possible, but you might want a big bowl of soup with potatoes (Sing Watson) or Slater’s red lentils (an ingredient that goes particularly well with carrots, although this may only be because of The same goes for the orange juice McVicar squeezes into her soup after blending into Jekka’s Herb Cookbook—another clever concoction that, although very sweet, is best served in small portions neatly).

Slater finishes his soup with toasted cumin seeds, olive oil, and baby greens, tops it with chopped parsley and serves croutons on the side. Sing Watson offers a full list of garnish suggestions that, in addition to some of the above, include almond croutons, orange blossom water, walnuts, hazelnuts, sesame oil, and “A teaspoonful of mixed Moroccan spices such as caraway and cumin, with a little chili pepper.” If you’re short on time, or would prefer to use that time in some other way (such as for soup), you can easily sprinkle chopped fresh cilantro on top. My bright green cilantro puree is not just for show, but melted into the oil, the flavor of the herb is richer, more intense, than my teenage self could dream of.

Perfect carrot and coriander soup

to equip 10 minutes
cook 1 hour 10 minutes
serves 4

50 grams of butteror 50 ml of oil
1 onion (red to prefer), peeled and finely chopped
salt
2 cloves of garlic
Peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon coriander seedsFinely
750 grams of carrotsthin slices
500 ml chicken or vegetable broth
50 grams of fresh coriander
100ml neutral oil
A splash of lemon or lime juice

Cut out a circle of greaseproof paper with a diameter similar to that of a large one.

Cut out a circle of greaseproof paper with a diameter similar to that of a large one.

Put the butter in the skillet over medium-low heat, and when it’s hot, add the onion and a good pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until it’s soft and just starting to take color—but be careful that it doesn’t brown.

Put the butter in the skillet over medium-low heat, and when it's hot, add the onion and a good pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until it's soft and just starting to take color—be careful that it doesn't brown.

Add the garlic and coriander seeds and saute, stirring, for another minute or so, then add the carrots and toss to coat in the hot fat.

Add the onions, then the garlic and the coriander seeds and sauté, stirring, for another minute or so, then add the carrots and toss to coat in the hot fat.

Wet one side of the greaseproof paper, place it damp-side down on top of the vegetables, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and let it sweat for 30 minutes.

Wet one side of the greaseproof paper, place it damp-side down on top of the vegetables, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and let it sweat for 30 minutes.

Lift the lid and paper, then pour in the broth—it needs to cover the vegetables.

Remove the lid and paper from the pan and cover the vegetables, then pour in the broth—it needs to cover the vegetables.  Bring to a simmer, then let it simmer gently for another 30 minutes.

Bring to a simmer, then let it simmer gently for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk cilantro, neutral oil, and citrus juice until pureed, then season to taste.

Whisk coriander, neutral oil, and citrus juice into a puree, then season to taste.

Pulse the soup into a puree (I use a stick blender), then thin with a little water, if needed.

Pulse the soup into a puree (I use a stick blender), then thin with a little water, if needed.

Check the seasoning, and serve topped with a swirl of cilantro puree or some chopped fresh cilantro, if you prefer.

  • Is carrot and cilantro soup a taste of the past for you, or has it never really gone out of style in your home? Does anyone know if it was actually a creation of John Tovey, or if it predates him? And which other classic soups will you pick up this winter?

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