To recover from the over-indulgence of the holidays, we needed some light and healthy food; yet the cooler weather had us craving something warm and satisfying. With the warming spices of curry, ginger, and smoked paprika, this carrot soup fills all of those needs.
As soon as we returned from our Thanksgiving travels this week, we made a big batch of spicy carrot soup. This soup is so easy to make and it freezes well, so you can have it in the freezer ready to heat up on a cold night. This is one of our go to recipes that we make on a regular basis. We might change up the seasonings but the basic recipe stays the same.
We like our soup to be pretty heavily spiced. We use a blend of sweet curry powder and hot curry powder to give it a little kick. The smoked paprika adds depth to the flavors. If you prefer less spice, I recommend starting with half of the recommended amounts and adjusting the seasonings to your taste at the end.
You’ll notice that we use ground ginger for this soup. We started using fresh ginger, but found that we couldn’t avoid those annoying little root fibers despite blending furiously. We just couldn’t get around them and we like our soup super smooth. So we tried ground ginger and loved the results.
Instead of using heavy cream, we thicken the soup with bread. This is a little trick that we learned in Spain where they blend bread into their gazpacho and salmorejo. The bread pulls everything together for a smooth creamy texture. White bread with the crust removed works best for a silky soup.
Wash the carrots (no need to peel them) and chop them into evenly sized slices about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Since everything is getting blended in the end, the size of the chop doesn’t matter so much. The most important thing is to have the pieces the same size so that they cook evenly.
Chop the onion and the garlic. Again, size doesn’t matter so much.
Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions, and garlic; stir to cover with the oil and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.
Add the spices – the ginger, hot curry, sweet curry, smoked paprika, and salt – and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes more.
Add enough water to completely cover the vegetables. Increase heat to high until it comes to a boil, then reduce to a simmer over low-medium heat.
Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft.
While the soup is cooking, zest and then juice a lemon. Set aside. We like the bright citrus notes that lemon brings to this soup, but wait and add it at the last minute. (Prolonged cooking destroys the freshness and can bring out the bitterness of the lemon.)
Once the vegetables are soft, remove from the heat and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes until safe to handle. Stir in the lemon juice and zest.
Blend the soup in batches. With our blender, it takes three batches. For each, we add one third of the torn bread to the blender and then ladle in the soup. Blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary for the soup to blend properly.
Transfer the blended soup to a large bowl and then recombine all of the batches together in the pot on the stove. Adjust the salt and seasonings to taste. The characteristics of the carrots themselves can have a big effect on the final flavor. The sweetest carrots make for the sweetest soup, but every now and then we get carrots that are more earthy. If this case, we balance the flavors by adding a touch of brown sugar.
Warm over low heat before serving. Garnish with fresh herbs, pumpkin seeds, maybe a drizzle of olive oil and enjoy!
Spicy Carrot Soup with Ginger and Curry
4 lbs carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3-4 tblsp extra virgin olive oil, enough to coat bottom of pan
1.5 tsp ground ginger
1.5 tsp hot curry powder
1.5 tsp sweet curry powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 slices of white bread, crusts removed and torn into pieces
2 tsp salt, or to taste
- Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. Add chopped carrots, onion, and garlic. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add ground ginger, curry powders, smoked paprika, and salt. Stir to coat vegetables and cook for an addition 2-3 minutes.
- Add enough water to completely cover the vegetables. Increase heat to high until it comes to a boil, then reduce to a simmer over low-medium heat.
- Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool until safe to handle, at least 15 minutes.
- Stir in lemon juice and zest.
- Puree soup in a blender in batches. For each batch, add bread pieces and blend until desired consistency. Add extra water to the blender if needed to blend properly.
- Transfer the blended soup to a large bowl and then recombine all of the batches together in the pot. Adjust salt and seasonings to taste.
- Warm the soup over low heat before serving.