Gourmet (November 2009)
Thumbing through the final issue of Gourmet [moment of silence], we were blown away by one of the first photos we saw, which was of this Scarlet Carrot Soup. Deeply red and topped by fried carrot strips, we knew it would make a dramatic start to any Thanksgiving meal.
But why is the soup so red? Is it a special variety of carrots? Food coloring? Code Red Mountain Dew?
The scarlet hue in this soup comes from beets, which when cooked along with the carrots, lend their intense color to the dish.
Making this soup is quite easy. While carrots and beets are the main ingredients, shallots, thyme, and hot pepper flakes add spice. Cook the vegetables until they're soft, and then puree the soup until it's smooth. The prep, cooking, and pureeing easily take less than an hour.
After tasting the finished product, we decided to add significantly more salt and pepper than the recipe dictates. Properly seasoned, this is a wonderful cold-weather soup, warm and comforting with hearty, earthy flavors.
As a bonus for holiday planning, the soup can be made several days ahead, but the carrot ribbons require a little last-minute attention.
They're not hard to make, but the recipe encourages you to not make them more than two hours ahead. In the midst of Thanksgiving prep, you just need to make sure you have a stovetop burner free in order to fry them. Tossed with coriander and piled on top of the soup, they're a lovely addition to the dish.
This is definitely a soup that gets "oohs" and "ahhs" when it comes out of the kitchen. Your Thanksgiving guests will be intrigued by the color and warmed by the comforting taste.
Scarlet Carrot Soup
Gourmet (November 2009)
Active Time: 30 minutes
Start to Finish: 1 hour
-- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted and cooled
-- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-- 1 cup sliced shallots (4 large)
-- 3 large thyme sprigs
-- 2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
-- 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
-- 3 lb carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
-- 1 lb trimmed beets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
-- 8 cups water plus additional if needed
-- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
For Crisp Carrot Ribbons
-- About 4 cups vegetable oil for frying
-- 2 large carrots
-- 2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Equipment: an electric coffee/spice grinder or a mortar and pestle; a deep-fat thermometer
Grind coriander in grinder. Heat oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook shallots with thyme, bay leaves, and red pepper, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add carrots, beets, 2 teaspoons coriander, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.
Discard bay leaves and any tough thyme stems. Puree soup in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), then return soup to pot. Stir in vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and additional water if needed to thin soup.
MAKE CARROT RIBBONS WHILE SOUP SIMMERS:
Heat 1 inch of oil to 350 degrees in a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat.
Peel carrots, then continue making thin lengthwise ribbons with peeler until you reach core. Toss ribbons in flour, shaking off excess, and season with salt.
Fry ribbons in 3 or 4 batches until golden along edges, about 1-minute per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain and spring with some of remaining coriander. Return oil to 350 degrees between batches.
Soup can be made 2 days ahead and chilled. Reheat, thinning with water if desired.
Carrot ribbons can be fried 2 hours ahead and kept, uncovered, at warm room temperature.