creamy carrot soup & preserved lemons
On a winter’s afternoon, weeks still before Christmas, a good friend Carolyn and I came together in my kitchen. We’d amassed on the counter several bags of organic lemons, sea salt, a few herbs and spices, and a collection of pretty jars. We washed, sliced and stuffed the lemons with salt. We packed them tight into their jars. Then tighter still. We dropped bay leaves and pink peppercorns and allspice berries in behind them, and then squeezed juice enough from other lemons to cover them. We talked about what we’d do with them and who we’d give them to as gifts for Christmas. In six weeks they’d be ready. Carolyn hadn’t tasted them before, so she could hardly wait.Some time – too long ago – I posted on how to preserve lemons. I
(kind of) promised that I’d share recipes that used these indescribably delectable “preserves”. (In all truth, though, you don’t really need a recipe in order to use them. You can strew them on a salad or in the salad’s vinaigrette; or in with roasted or steamed vegetables; make a simple sauce sort of extraordinary; add them to stews or soups; flavor grilled or poached fish with them. I reach for them several times a week, at least!) Over the next couple months I’ll share a good handful of really good recipes. One of them will be from my friend Carolyn who invented it on the spot (she does that sort of thing, and created herself a beautiful shrimp dinner in about 15 minutes.) She told me about it and I made it and we loved it. (Expect to see more from Ottolenghi too.)
This one today is from Mike – Mike, married to my daughter, is a good good cook. They received a jar of Preserved Lemons for Christmas. One day my girl and I were on an outing and she raved about the dinner Mike had made the other night. By that afternoon, I was texting Mike…
He generously shares his soup:
Creamy Carrot Soup with Preserved Lemons
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 -3 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1½ teaspoons finely minced ginger root
2 cups chicken stock (or good vegetable stock)
2 Tablespoons dry sherry or white wine
8 to 10 medium carrots, sliced thinly
1 to 2 sections of preserved lemon, diced finely (See NOTE)
1 to 1¼ cups milk (from whole milk to 1% to your preferred milk alternative)
Salt & Pepper (white if you have it) to taste
NOTE on preserved lemons. By “sections” we mean quarters of lemon. After soaking in a briny liquid for 6 weeks, the flesh of the lemon has given over much of its juice to the jar. The rinds of the lemon have softened, and in a way quite impossible to describe, have mellowed, given up their acidic bite and become more roundly-flavored, very lemony still, but not mouth-puckeringly so. To use them, you remove the flesh (either discard it or toss it back in the jar) and use only the rind, which you rinse well first and then (generally) finely dice. If you cook with it, it will impart its lemony-ness to the dish but in a way you can’t quite put your finger on. If you use it fresh, without cooking first, you get little lemony bursts.
If you don’t want to make them yourself, you can find them in many markets. That said, they’re easy and (we think) fun to make…especially with a friend.
Heat the oil or butter in a stockpot. Add diced onion and sauté until golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add minced ginger and garlic and continue sautéing until fragrance rises. (About 1 minute.) (Mike added a dash of nutmeg instead of the ginger. Either would be very good.) Deglaze the pan with wine or sherry, and when alcohol has burned off add the carrots. Add stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the diced preserved lemon (rind only) at this time. Place the lid on the pot and simmer for 20 minutes, or until carrots are tender.
If you have a large, high-powered blender, you can add all the carrot mixture to the blender jar at once. Add about half the milk. Whir until velvety. If you like a thinner soup, add a bit more milk until it suits you. Add salt & (white) pepper to taste. Return to the pot to come back up to temperature.
If you have a conventional blender, scoop half of the carrot mixture into the blender with half of the milk. Whir til velvety, remove to medium bowl and repeat with the rest of the soup mixture, adding only as much milk as needed to get the consistency that you prefer. Return to the pot to warm.
Next time I make this (and there WILL be a next time) I’m going to try with coconut milk. I’ll report back to you.
By the way, little ones loved this soup!
Great with sandwiches, panini or crostini, and salad for an easy casual dinner,
but it dresses up nice too.
to print the recipe for soup, just click.