Not planned, but soup of some sort had to be on the menu on Boxing Day; no one feels like eating more than a simple, warming soup the day after the big feast.
My veggie basket was housing a good kilo or two of carrots getting past their prime. In my mad-dash pre-Xmas shop, I’d hit the supermarket and that was the packet size. Must buy loose next time! Carrot and ginger was a no-no as we’d juiced up the root a few days earlier. Then I spied the equally large basket of oranges. Winter citrus, the juicing not marmalade variety. The colour orange it was then all round but with a happy complement of flavours. Fruit of the tree and root of the ground made for each other in soup.
Cardamon was a shot in the dark but worked well. The idea to add it came thanks to a long distant friend Amy in the States who, like me, has children of dual nationality (Swedish-American in her case). She’d posted a link on her timeline to a traditional Swedish Cardamon cake. The spice stuck in my head and works a treat in this soup giving it a mid-winter twist that warms it up nicely. Feel free to leave it out if it’s not your thing though.
This soup was so good that we had it two days in a row. The carrots now all gone and used for something other than regular carrot cake. This recipe passed the test of a husband who has a dislike of carrots since childhood and a son whose taste buds are very fussy when it comes to soup – perhaps down to his early memories of my hiding all sorts of healthy veg in a soup, blended up! Isn’t carrot the first puree’ you give babies? Could be something that men remember? Rest assured, this is a very, very adult soup; so much so that I’d even recommend it as a menu item for a New Year’s dinner party or luncheon.
Carrot, Orange & Cardamon Soup
I tend to make it up thick, but feel free to add more water after blending to get your desired texture.
1 kilo carrots, peeled and diced
2 juicing oranges – zest and juice
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 or 2 leeks, sliced finely
2 shallots or a small red onion, diced
4 cardamon pod, crushed to extract seeds
fresh-ground pepper & pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
knob of butter
1.5 pints of stock or water plus (depending on how you like the consistency)
cream of some sort for serving, if desired
Place carrots, leeks, garlic and onion/shallots in a heavy-based saucepan or casserole along with the olive oil and butter. Sweat the vegetables over a low heat with lid on until soft (takes around 10-15 mins). Stir occasionally to prevent catching. Meanwhile, zest then juice the oranges. Using a pestle and mortar crush the seeds out of the cardamon pods. Add the cardamon seeds to the veg along with the orange juice and zest retaining a little zest to garnish on serving. Continue to sweat veg for another five minutes or until very soft. Add the stock or water, bring to boil, then simmer gently for another 10 minutes.
Then, remove from heat and allow the soup mixture to cool a little before whizzing up in a liquidiser or blender to a fine puree. Add more water at this point to dilute soup to your desired consistency. Return the soup to the pan to heat up again before serving. Serve with a blob of thick cream and a little orange zest sprinkled on top.
All images © Liz Ayling 2012