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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.CarrotSoup-1Some 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.

CarrotSoup-3Heat 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.

36 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’m so glad you featured this delicious soup with the delectable preserved lemons. The kiddos had seconds of their Papa’s handiwork, as did I! Such beautiful photos, as always! Xoxo

    January 17, 2013
    • Thanks Ashley. We loved it! Taking most of this batch to my mom’s and can hardly wait to make again so as to have seconds of my own!

      January 18, 2013
  2. I sent away for some preserved lemons months ago from a midwestern grocery store mentioned in a cookbook. The chicken dish I made with them was delicious; they do have a unique flavor. I will try your luscious sounding soup too.

    Why do you not use the entire lemon: nobody told me that when I made the chicken dish so I diced the whole lemon to put under the skin before roasting it. Maybe the whole lemon would be too tart in soup????

    January 17, 2013
    • I think you’ll really like the soup Ronnie. There’s such a great balance to it – lemony flavor without being tart, sweet taste of carrot without being sweet. It all comes together so subtly and deliciously!
      About the fruit of the preserved lemons – since the salt is inserted into the center of the lemon, the fruit itself would be absorbing huge amounts of it. Because the rind is far less permeable, it absorbs some of the juice, and only some of the salt. Once it’s been rinsed, you don’t get that overwhelming sense of saltiness. Using it the way you did, inserting both parts of the lemon beneath the skin of the chicken, I can see how that saltiness would seep into the flesh and flavor the whole dish. (That being a good thing!) I’ve never run across a recipe that uses the flesh before, so, interesting.
      And yes, I think that using the whole thing in just about any recipe would make it extremely salty and perhaps too lemony too. But overwhelmingly salty…which preserved lemon rinds are not.

      January 18, 2013
  3. My girlfriend gave me a jar over Christmas.. but they’re long gone.. I will definitely plan to make up a batch in the next little while, the possibilities really are endless. I wish I had a jar so I could try this recipe right away, the soup looks so marvelously creamy.. down to that pretty swirl that you’ve made. I’ll see if I can find a premade jar at the market tomorrow. Once again, spree, your photography is just so professionally beautiful.. and enticing! xxoo

    January 17, 2013
    • Did your girlfriend make them for you Smidge? Long gone already! You must have found many wonderful ways with them! (do share!) And this soup – the great thing is it comes across as creamy without all the fat that creamy usually entails. It’s a good ‘un for sure! Thank you so much for your sweet words Barb!! xxoo

      January 18, 2013
      • She did.. and I think I just added them all to one dish (it was a wee, tiny jar:) So no great recipes, I look forward to yours!xx

        January 18, 2013
  4. The sunshine yellow colour of this made me initially think this soup was some homemade lemon curd. It instead turns out to be a delicious sounding soup, perfect for the most miserable and cold winter’s day. As always, beautiful photographs, lovely writing and a a fantastic recipe. Thanks for sharing Spree

    January 18, 2013
    • Fiona, thank you! It does turn out to be a very luscious sunny color, and like you say, just right for the midst of chilly winter! Thank you very much for your nice words!!

      January 18, 2013
  5. This sounds (and looks) incredible! I cannot wait to try it out.
    *runs to find jars, lemons and salt enough to do this!*

    January 18, 2013
    • You won’t be sorry you ran for jars! 🙂 Thanks for leaving such a nice compliment behind!

      January 18, 2013
  6. I´ve never made preserved lemons and I realy should when I´m in Spain as we have so many! What a gorgeous soup and I love the soup of using the lemons with it, very lovely indeed.

    January 18, 2013
    • Tanya, looking at your lemon trees has made me green more than once! And seeing a jarful on your sunny kitchen counter would be lovely (indeed!) And the soup is as good as it looks! 🙂

      January 18, 2013
  7. Two great recipes! Especially that cream…thanks for sharing 🙂

    January 18, 2013
  8. The colors are just beautiful and those plates are just divine…

    January 18, 2013
    • I’m glad you like! Thank you “Gracious”! 🙂

      January 18, 2013
  9. Coincidentally I’m preserving lemons today. I use them all the time but never thought to use them in carrot soup. Such a good idea. Lovely shot.

    January 18, 2013
    • Thanks Roger, how serendipitous!

      January 18, 2013
  10. Lovely, I can’t wait to try it!

    January 18, 2013
  11. Good ol’ Mike – it looks wonderful! Good stuff 🙂

    January 18, 2013
  12. Loooks really delicious! love carrot soup!

    January 18, 2013
  13. This recipe looks amazing Spree! I’ve never worked with preserved lemond before, it is high time I did – and as usual your photos are spectacular. Happy weekend! xo

    January 18, 2013
  14. Hi there, have just had a piece of my zucchini, carrot and parsnips bread … wonderful – recipe worked wonderful – had to change some things … didn’t know what apple butter was, but looking over internet .. I understand I could use my lingon berry preserve – a post will follow about the whole event. Spot on was the recipe. Thanks a million.
    This soup looks good .. but a soup-maker I’m not. Only do one soup and that is my orange fish-soup .. the best an the easiest fish soup in the world. Have a wonderful weekend.

    January 18, 2013
  15. I saw Meyers Lemons before New Years and bought some for limoncello, thinking I’d return after the holiday to get more for your recipe for preserving lemons. Well, they were all gone and I’ve not seen them since, anywhere. I haven’t given up on making your recipe, though. I’ll just go the organic route. Then I can make some of Mike’s delicious soup. It looks so thick and creamy — and it will be just as delicious 6 or 7 weeks from now. 🙂
    Another great post, beautifully presented, Spree.

    January 18, 2013
  16. I am so making it this weekend! How will I ever serve it without your amazing plates which look made for this dish?

    January 18, 2013
  17. settleandchase #

    Looks utterly delicious! I saw someone preserving lemons on a cookery programme this week and I said that i must try it – this has convinced me!

    January 19, 2013
  18. What better treats to liven up a cold winter’s day? My goodness. I do love carrot soup – anytime of year, but most especially when the snow is flying. I imagine preserved lemon would take things to the next level, and maybe even give spring a little nudge…

    January 20, 2013
  19. Carrot soup on its own is good, but with this lemony addition I can only imagine how much better it would be! Making preserved lemons sounds like fun. I shall be on the lookout for organic lemons so I can give these a try!

    January 20, 2013
  20. What a good idea. Simple, economical, a great presentation and gift. phew! I do like Lulu’s restaurant’s preserved lemons but they are pricey.
    The lemons in the soup really must give it a bright kick. Thanks for the recipe!

    January 20, 2013
  21. Ali #

    Absolutely loved this! Comes together so quickly and is the perfect blend of flavors!! Smooth and all around lovely.

    January 20, 2013
  22. The soup looks and sounds fabulous. A question ‘tho. What do you do with the flesh you discard from these lemons? Surely, they get used in, say, a delicious tart of some kind or as an addition in something else that needs a little lift? Seems such an effort just to use the rind…. 🙂

    January 20, 2013
  23. You have reminded me to do some again! How on earth do you get such a perfect swirl!

    January 21, 2013
  24. deb #

    Sounds and looks heavenly. Such creative women, you and Carolyn 🙂

    January 21, 2013
  25. deb #

    And man, Mike!!

    January 21, 2013
  26. I am making my preserved lemons tomorrow but with all the recipes you are posting how am I going to find the patience to wait for 6 weeks for them to get ready?

    January 24, 2013

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