Friday, August 16, 2013

Carrot Soup with Cilantro (or Basil) Pesto

Carrot Soup with Dollop of Pesto and Scattered and Crossed Chives
Garnished with Cilantro Pesto and Chives

Recipe adapted from Sunset Magazine, April 2012

In these days of abundant and perishable tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and kale, summer carrots sometimes get sidelined from the menu. CSA subscribers might have the sudden realization, usually due to lack of refrigerator space, that they are storing 4 or more lbs. of carrots from several weeks of produce deliveries. Add to that the herb bunch blues—the challenge of using up the whole Farmers’ Market herb bunch, when most recipes call for significantly less. Enter SunsetMagazine’s unique recipe for Carrot Soup with Carrot Top Pesto, a quick substitution of available herbs for the unavailable carrot tops, a fast doubling of the recipe—and the carrot stash is reduced by half, deliciously.

Bowl of Orange Carrot Soup with Dollop of Green Pesto
Striking Combination of Color & Flavor
Though carrot tops taste different than cilantro or basil, the idea of topping carrot soup with green goodies remains the same: mild, smooth, sweet soup contrasting with a dollop of highly spiced condiment. If cilantro isn't your thing, basil substitutes deliciously. Or try your favorite pesto as topper, perhaps adding extra garlic, lemon juice, a bit of chili oil, or anything else that will make the flavor pop against the simple creaminess of the pureed carrot soup. You could also try mixing in some chives and/or parsley with the cilantro or basil in the pesto. Check your herb garden and get creative. Serve this soup warm or at room temperature on hot summer days.

Carrots and Cilantro in a Basket
Veggie Ingredients: Carrots & Cilantro
Carrot Soup with Cilantro or Basil Pesto
serves ~10

2 ½ lbs. carrots
1 large onion
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. salt
6 cups veggie or chicken broth
1 large bunch cilantro (or other herbs)
¾ - 1 tsp. pressed garlic
2 tbsp. chopped almonds
2 tbsp. olive oil
  tbsp. veggie or chicken broth
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/8 – ¼ tsp. salt
Chopped chives, optional garnish

Scrub and trim carrots. Cut into ¾ inch chunks.

Dice onion. You will have about 2 cups.

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in deep soup pot. Add onion and ½ tsp. salt. Cook over medium heat until softened, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

Add carrots and stir to coat with oil. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer with cover ajar until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the pesto. Scoop a couple of tablespoons of broth from the carrots and let cool a bit. Add the following to an immersion blender cup: cilantro or other herb/s, garlic, almonds, olive oil, 1½ tbsp. broth, lemon juice, and 1/8 tsp. salt. Puree with immersion blender, adding more broth or olive oil if mixture is too thick to liquefy. Taste and adjust salt if necessary. You can also make the pesto in a food processor. Pesto should taste highly flavored.

When carrots are tender, use the (washed) immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot. You can also puree this in the blender, though because soup is hot this is less than ideal.

Serve the soup in bowls with a dollop (about a tablespoonful) of pesto on each serving. Garnish with chives. You can serve this soup warm or at room temperature.

NOTE: For Autumn Ginger Carrot Soup, add 1 - 2 tbsp. grated ginger to the soup with the onion and eliminate the pesto topping.

Carrot Soup with Cilantro Pesto and Scattered Chive Garnish
Good Things from the Garden

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