Carrot and Coriander Soup
OK, hands up if you’ve ever had carrot and coriander soup in one of those plastic pots from the supermarket? Yes? OK, now keep your hand up if you thought it was a taste sensation. Thought so. These are generally pitched as low calorie or low fat, which basically means low taste. But what if you think there’s more to life than watery vegetable juice? Can carrot and coriander soup become something that you look forward to eating? Yes it can, and it’s simple to boot!
I was tasked with making a homemade version of carrot and coriander soup one day when my nearest and dearest was otherwise occupied. As usual, I couldn’t just do as I was told, so I decided to find out if it was possible to take the basic ingredients and come up with something special. Obviously, the two main ingredients of this dish are carrots and coriander (cilantro to you foreign types). A quick look through ‘The Flavor Bible‘ (an excellent book to have around if you like experimenting with food) told me that orange was a complimentary flavour to carrots. A quick glance showed that Queen Delia had already charted these waters, advising that toasted coriander seeds were the perfect citrus boost to the carrot flavour. My own touch was to add a little grated nutmeg, which rounds the flavours out nicely.
So, without further ado – here is my recipe for carrot and coriander soup, with a little help from Delia. Let me know if you like it!
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 50g butter
- 1 bag of carrots (approx 1kg) - peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic - crushed
- 2 pints vegetable stock/bouillion
- Half a nutmeg, grated finely
- Bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
- Small pot of sour cream
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Take a large saucepan with a lid, and put it over a high heat. Add the coriander seeds, and stir round with a wooden spoon for about two minutes, until they start to brown slightly. Then carefully tip into a pestle and mortar and crush them until reasonably fine but not powdered.
- Meanwhile, add the butter to the pan and melt over a low heat. Add the garlic, carrots and the crushed coriander seeds and stir well so that the butter covers everything. Put a lid on the pan and cook over a gentle heat for about ten minutes - you're just softening the vegetables, not trying to brown them so not too much heat.
- Next, add the stock and then season with salt and pepper (if your stock is salty, you may not need any extra - be careful!) - don't skip the seasoning, that's one of the reasons why homemade food can sometimes be quite bland. Grate half a nutmeg into the pan, then stir well and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer with the lid on for fifteen to twenty minutes, until all the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and take off the lid to allow the soup to cool a little. At this point you can chop up the coriander - if possible, you want to use just the leaves but a few stalks doesn't hurt.
- Once the soup has cooled a little, you can blend it with a stick blender. Add the coriander and the sour cream, check the seasoning and adjust if needed, then heat back to full temperature and serve with fresh crusty bread and butter.
- As you probably know, some foods go naturally with others and the tastes combine to compliment each other. This recipe works because one of the flavours that goes well with carrots is oranges, and toasted coriander seeds have an orangey aroma. Another complimentary flavour for carrots is nutmeg, and this gives a nice complexity by adding something different. The butter and the sour cream keep it from being too thin, and oils spread flavours so don't skimp on them!