Stretch your culinary skills on this silky roasted carrot soup
OK, I know that carrot cashew soup will not be everyone's cup of broth, but bear with me on this one.
Yes, it's vegan. Yes, it's healthy. Yes, it's kind of weird. It is also delicious. And, for those of you who like to try new things, there are three opportunities to branch out and expand your culinary skills.
First off, roast the carrots. I am a big fan of roasting veggies to get all that wonderful depth of flavor and sweetness, but for some reason, I never roasted carrots before.
I won't make that mistake again.
There's a reason that cooking things with high heat changes the taste, and that's called the Maillard reaction. Not to get too science-y, but some chemical reaction occurs when proteins and sugars are heated to produce a brown color. Think toast, grilled marks on a steak, or roasted coffee, and you see how food changes -- and improves -- when it is roasted.
Definitely add roasted carrots to that list. That time in the oven adds that perfect touch of sweetness to the carrots, the star of this soup.
Secondly, this recipe uses cashews mixed with coconut milk to thicken the soup. Cashews, which are relatively mild in flavor, have a very high fat content, which, paired with the coconut milk, adds a silky creaminess to this soup without using any dairy.
And lastly, the spicing in the soup is a beautiful blend of coriander, red pepper flakes and sumac. I had never used sumac before and was pleasantly surprised that it tasted sort of like fresh lemon juice -- both sweet and sour. It paired beautifully with the lush richness of the soup and was a nice balance to the sweetness of the carrots.
Finish the whole thing off with a splash of lime juice and some chopped cashews and you'll have an extremely healthy dish, sort of weird and very definitely delicious.
• M. Eileen Brown is the Daily Herald's vice president of sales and marketing and an incurable soup-a-holic. She specializes in vegetarian soups and blogs at soupalooza.com/.
Roasted Carrot Cashew Soup
2 pounds carrots, trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium shallot, quartered
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground sumac
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
6 cups vegetable broth
1 cup (6 ounces) roasted, unsalted cashews
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice or apple cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the rack in the middle. Toss the carrots with the garlic, shallot, oil, salt, black pepper, coriander, sumac and red pepper flakes. Transfer to a sheet pan large enough for the carrots to fit in a single layer. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, heat the vegetable broth in a saucepan over low heat and keep warm. Place ¼ cup (1½ ounces) cashews in a high-speed blender. Add the coconut milk and puree until smooth. Chop the remaining cashews to use for garnish.
Add the carrots and vegetable broth to the blender and puree until smooth. (If necessary, puree the soup in batches.) Stir everything together, taste, and add more salt and pepper, as needed.
Return the soup to the saucepan over medium heat and warm until heated through. Stir in the lime juice or vinegar and divide the soup among serving bowls. Top with chopped cashews.
Adapted from "Cannelle et Vanille" by Aran Goyoaga