Saturday, 6 October 2007

Carrot and Corainder Seed Soup

This is one of my favorite soups. That's a big claim - during the non-summer months, we tend to have home-made soups at least once a week. Adding to my pleasure in eating soup is the fact that my stomach has an ability to take in liquid in volumes unseen in most humans. And camels. It's a unique gustatory talent to have, and I try to use it well.

Carrot and coriander seed soup is a wonderful soup for the autumn; I found it in a Delia Smith cookbook and she recommends it as a spring dish, but I couldn't disagree more. The coriander seeds, which are toasted and then ground into powder, create a fragrant warming vein lacing through the carrots, and help to bring on a suffuse warmth. This balances beautifully with the delicate sweetness of the carrots. Since I have the soup as my main meal, I like to eat it with a thick wholemeal bread slathered in butter, like an Irish soda bread.

This time making the soup, I experimented by cutting the kernels off a couple of ears of corn, and toasting half while including the other half in the soup. I liked the toasted corn sprinkled on top of the soup, but found the extra corn pureed within it upset the balance of the other flavors and added to much sweetness overall.

Carrot and Coriander Seed Soup, from Delia Smith
Seres 6 as a starter, 3-4 as a main

  • 2 lb of carrots
  • 1 Tbs coriander seeds (I normally tend to double this, but you might want to start as suggested)
  • 1 oz / 25 g butter
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 2 pints / 1.2 litres chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 Tbs chopped coriander (I sometimes leave this out to no ill effect)
  • 3 Tbs creme fraiche
  • salt and pepper
  1. Peel and chop the carrots
  2. Dry-roast the coriander seeds in a pan, shaking gently throughout; roast for 1-2 minutes until the seeds start browning and jumping around the pan. Transfer the seeds to a mortar and pestle and crush
  3. Melt the butter in a large pot, then add the carrots, garlic, and 3/4 of the coriander seeds
  4. Stir, and let sweat for about 10 minutes until the carrots begin to soften
  5. Add the stock and salt and pepper, and bring to the boil
  6. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 15-20 minutes or until the carrots are tender
  7. Liquidize the soup in batches, then return to the pot and add the chopped fresh coriander and the creme fraiche
  8. Re-heat the soup gently, tasting for flavor, and sprinkle each bowlful with the remaining toasted coriander seeds

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