Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Carrot and Coriander Soup

It is turning bleak, slowly but surely. It's not really cold yet though we're well into October. After a brilliant weekend, rain and heavy cloud has arrived and with it a lack of proper daylight making for gloomy days inside and out. It is a good time for the comfort of soup.

One of my favourites is the wonderfully spicy Carrot and Coriander, the cheerful orange colour of it brightens the day and the combination of both dried spices and fresh coriander leaves give it a serious depth, surprising given that the base is water rather than stock.
Coriander is a herb that has seemingly been around since the beginning of time. Pliny, in his Naturalis Historia, the encyclopedia he wrote around 77 A.D. named coriandrium, derived from koros (a bug) in reference to the foetid smell of the leaves. Others refer to their distinctive perfume.

The orangey flavour of the seeds goes well with carrots as well as the classic combination with chilli and cumin. This is the base for the soup and then, after it's cooked and sieved, you add fresh leaves at the last minute to serve giving it texture as well as flavour making for a simple, elegant starter or lunch with a little crusty bread. The recipe comes from Sally Clark's Book.

Carrot, Cumin & Coriander Soup

60 ml olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small red chili, cut in half
3 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
750g/1 1/2 lb carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 large onions, peeled and cut into large chunks
4 sticks celery, washed and cut into chunks
1 medium fennel bulb, washed and sliced
about 700 ml/1 1/2 pints water
2 tsp salt
1 large bunch coriander, washed thoroughly, 6 sprigs picked, stalks removed from remaining leaves
Sour cream to serve - optional

Over a medium heat in a heavy based pan warm the olive oil with the garlic, chili, cumin and coriander seeds until the spices begin to sizzle and the aroma is released. Turn up the heat, add the vegetables and stir well to coat each piece with the flavoured oil. Cover with a lid and cook without colouring for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add water to barely cover as well as the salt and the coriander stalks. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer until all the vegetables are soft, approximately 20 minutes. Scoop out about a cup of liquid and set aside. In a food processor or with an electric hand blender, purée the rest of the contents of the pan. Check the consistency and, if it needs it, add the reserved liquid and purée again. Push the soup through a sieve into a clean pan - this sounds like hard work but in fact is very easy in this recipe and makes a world of difference.

Chop the coriander leaves and stir into the soup, taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot or chilled with a scoop of sour cream and a sprig of fresh coriander to decorate.

This was how we began dinner Monday night with Marie - she approved - and it was pretty fabby next night with hot buttered toast for dinner for us Tuesday and a little left over chocolate truffle cake to finish.

1 comment:

Marie said...

I am glad that I am your first comment. I will have a go at that recipe. It was really delicious - I was there. Yum!