Curried Heirloom Carrot Soup

Carrots are a staple in my fridge. If I don’t have any other veggies, I’m bound to have these — and most likely they’re the heirloom variety from Trader Joe’s. I’ve made carrot soup with crisped chickpeas before, but this soup has new textures and flavors thanks to the leek, fennel, celery and apple.

Curried Carrot Soup

Ingredients:

> 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
> 1 medium onion, chopped
> 2 medium leeks, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
> 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and chopped
> salt and pepper
> 2 pounds heirloom carrots, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
> 2 ribs of celery, cut into 1-inch chunks
> 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
> 1 tablespoon curry powder
> 2 garlic cloves
> 1 quart vegetable broth
> 1 cup roasted sunflower seeds

Instructions:

In a large saucepan, melt the better. Add the onion, leek, fennel and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, until softened, about 9 minutes.

Add the carrots, celery, apple, curry powder and garlic and cook until vegetables soften slightly, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Serve with roasted sunflower seeds on top, and any other garnishes. (I added roasted white beans to provide additional protein.) If the curry is too dominating, add milk to subdue the spice.

Makes 6 servings.

Adapted from Food & Wine.

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Black Bean Mushroom Soup

One of the easiest and most satisfying recipes to whip together is soup. I’ve experimented with carrot soup, zucchini soup, green pea soup and many others, and while those are delicious, they often lack the proper nutrients including protein and calcium.

The simplest sources of protein for vegetarians are beans and nuts, along with dairy sources like yogurt and eggs. Anyone who knows me well can attest to my obsession with chickpeas. Earlier this year, I went through two cans of chickpeas a week, and yes, I was the only one consuming all of those chickpeas roasted, atop a salad or mixed into hummus.

Whenever I find a recipe that I love that doesn’t have chickpeas, I’m thrilled because it’s a new set of flavors to add to my culinary arsenal. This soup calls on another common bean, the black bean, as well as mushrooms for its flavor. Aside from being quick and easy, this recipe requires minimal ingredients and is great for beginning cooks and aficionados alike.

Black Bean Mushroom Soup

Ingredients:

> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 1 garlic clove, chopped
> 1 yellow onion, chopped
> 12 ounces white cap mushrooms
> 1 1/2 cups hot water
> 1/2 cube vegetable stock
> 1 can black beans
> salt and pepper

Instructions:

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pot over high heat. Add the garlic and onions, and cook until they have become translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook for 7 more minutes. Add the hot water, stock cube and beans, and gently simmer for 20 minutes.

Transfer the cooked mixture to a blender, and pulse until liquid with some texture.

Makes 2 servings.

Adapted from One Green Planet.

Carrot Soup with Crisped Chickpeas and Tahini

Carrot is a neglected vegetable that people often think of in its raw or steamed variety. Yet, carrots can be blended into a veggie juice, roasted and combined with grains, or even made into soup. I decided to try the latter since carrot soup is unique and distinct from the classic chicken noodle soup or tomato bisque.

Carrot Soup

Ingredients:

Soup
> 2 tablespoons olive oil
> 2 pounds carrots, diced
> 1 large onion, finely chopped
> 5 garlic cloves, peeled
> 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
> 4 cups vegetable broth

Crisped chickpeas
> 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 1/2 teaspoon salt
> 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Lemon-tahini dollop
> 3 tablespoons tahini
> 2 tablespoons lemon juice
>2 tablespoons water

Instructions:

Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, cumin and a dash of salt and pepper. Saute until they begin to brown, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°. Toss chickpeas with one tablespoon olive oil, salt and cumin. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. In a small dish, whisk together tahini, lemon juice and water until smooth.

Once the carrot mixture begins to brown, add broth. Cover pot with lid and simmer until carrots are tender, about 30 minutes.

Puree soup in a blender until smooth. Ladle into bowls, and dollop each with lemon-tahini and sprinkle with crisped chickpeas.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.