If you are freezing like the rest of us Torontonians (-20C/-4F), this soup will warm you right up. It’s got all the cozy, comforting qualities of homemade soup but with a kick of flavor from harissa and freshly grated ginger. They add a modern twist to this simple carrot soup.
The secret to this delicious soup is roasting the carrots on high heat. Carrots are naturally sweet but something really special happens when they are roasted with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper in 425 degree heat. They come out of the oven sizzling hot and caramelized with browned bits all over the edges. So much flavor from the simple, humble carrot!
Another flavor booster comes in the form of sautéed onion, ginger, and harissa. Once they get soft and lightly browned, dump in the roasted carrot chunks and cover with chicken stock. Simmer for 10 minutes so all the flavors meld together. Now it’s time to puree the vegetables into a thick, chunky soup!
This soup feels virtuous and one step closer to chastity and moderation after all the feasting and gluttony of the holiday season. I’m sure I’m not the only one looking for a bit of self-denial in January! A month of cheese platters, Yorkshire pudding, succulent roasts, rich sauces, decadent desserts, and vegetables smothered in bechamel can do that to you. Christmas is a time to make merry and rightly so! But in January, I think we’re all looking for ways to ease back into healthful balance.
I happen to love this soup. To be honest, my meat-loving husband does not. My three children are somewhere in between. I have a feeling that the garlic bread served alongside this soup is the main reason it gets eaten between the four of them. Whether you include dairy and gluten or not (heavy cream and garlic bread optional), I hope you will enjoy it! Happy New Year and stay warm, friends!
- Harissa is a Middle Eastern spice made from smoked chiles, cumin, and coriander, as well as other spices. You can find Harissa readily available in paste or spice powder versions. I love this spice powder version made by PC (President’s Choice) here in Canada. But any version will do. Feel free to substitute with Harissa paste.
- Be careful when pureeing the soup. There is a fine line between thick, rustic soup and soup that’s been pureed until it looks and tastes like baby food. While some soups taste lovely when pureed to silky perfection, this is not one of those soups! You want the soup to be mostly smooth, but with some rough texture.
- As with all vegetable soups (or food in general, really), salt is essential. However, it’s really difficult to gauge how much salt to add. So much depends on the salt content of the other ingredients and personal preference. I cook with no-salt chicken stock but the Harissa spice powder contains added salt. Adjust your soup according to the salt content of your stock and harissa. And always, just before serving, taste the soup and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Heavy cream is optional. If you want to feel virtuous after all the feasting and gluttony of the holidays, leave it out. But if the idea of pureed vegetable soup for dinner leaves you feeling bereft and forlorn, by all means — add the cream! Everything in moderation, as people say.
A delicious, good-for-you Roasted Carrot Soup with a spicy kick from harissa and ginger.
- 2 lbs carrots
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 inch ginger grated
- 1 tsp harissa spice powder or paste
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 3/4 cup heavy cream optional
- olive oil
- parley for garnishing
Cut the tops off the carrots and leave the skins on. Chop carrots into chunks, roughly the same size. Place onto baking tray. Drizzle with 2 Tb olive oil and salt and pepper. Mix with hands until everything is well combined.
Slide baking tray into preheated 425 F oven for 20-30 minutes, until browned and slightly charred but not burnt.
Meanwhile, heat 2 Tb olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Saute onion, ginger, and harissa until soft and slightly brown, about 5 minutes.
When carrots have finished roasting, scrape them directly over the onion mixture. Pour in chicken or vegetable stock. Bring to boil and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Puree with a hand immersion blender until it’s mostly smooth but still has some rough texture. Add cream, if using. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add more salt, pepper, and harissa, if needed.
Serve in warmed bowl with a garnish of parsley and additional harissa spice powder. Garlic bread is a great side.