Tempting to eat the raw carrots straight out of the ground. Brush off the dirt, smell the sweet terroir of the orange flesh and feel the soft brush of greens across your cheek. That’s what I imagine it would be like if they came from my garden. If only…
Since time constraints don’t allow that I garden,forage,cook,clean, and taste I rely on other’s talents for the gardening. Whether it be the wrapped in two week old comic strips carrots, I was gifted from a friends garden, or the farmer’s market abundance version, I love fresh carrots. The weather in the Pacific North West is turning cooler so warmth from both external (i.e. oven) and internal (i.e. spices) was the plan.
Cooked carrots were never my thing as a kid. An overtly sweet vegetable covered in melted margarine and limp like an old rag doll didn’t pull me into the cooked carrot world. Does anyone eat that? I had to change my focus, so I turned to roasting. Roasted carrots I discovered could be as lovely as a piece of pumpkin pie on a fall day. Soup is a fitting autumn start to producing bountiful flavors.
Roasted vegetable means oven sizzle. I listen for the sputter as I wait for them to be done. A toasted, stick to the pan appearance began to occur on each carrot so I gave a little nudge like the infants they were and over they turned. Roasting completed when they were soft and marshmallow browned. Ready for the soup...my little loved ones.
250grams (1/2 pound) Roasted carrots sliced on the diagonal
160 grams (one and a half onions)Roasted largely chopped onion.
2 garlic cloves sliced thin
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp Harissa paste (depending on your heat preference)
salt and pepper to taste
fleur de sel
Turn on oven to 425 degrees.
Wash carrots but leave peel on. Slice at an angle into two or three pieces. In a large bowl add carrots and onions, coat with 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp kosher salt and pepper. Place on baking trays leaving enough space in between, do not crowd the sheet pan.
Roast for 20-30 minutes. Rotate trays half way through time, turning carrots. Do the same with the onions watching to make sure not to burn.
Chop garlic, cilantro and mint while roasting vegetables.
After vegetables are roasted, in a medium dutch oven or large pot, add olive oil to warmed pot. Add roasted onions dusting with salt and sauté only one-two minutes as the onions are cooked. Add sliced garlic and sauté 30 seconds, watching that it doesn't burn. Add 2 tsp of cumin and stir until aroma is forthcoming only about 30 seconds. Add chicken broth, scraping or deglazing the pot. Add roasted carrots and the rest of the cumin. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until carrots are very soft, then add Harissa. Simmer for one more minute, turn off heat and using an immersion blender or blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve warm soup into bowls and top with chopped cilantro, mint, crumbled feta and fleur de sel.
Harissa paste can be found in most Arabic markets and if you don’t have one nearby you can make your own. You can also substitute with harissa spice but taste as you add it.