Cinnamon and cumin add zip to this warming dish
Looking for a zesty starter? Something that will wake up your taste buds, but still leave you hungry for the main course?
This Moroccan Carrot Soup fills the bill. It’s chockfull of nutrition, but it’s light on calories. Best of all, it’s packed with flavor.
If you’ve resolved to eat lighter and healthier in 2014, this dish is for you. Who knew it would be so easy to keep your New Year’s resolutions?
Recipe: Moroccan Carrot Soup
Carrots are used widely in Moroccan cuisine, most often in salads. In fact, there are countless Moroccan salads that use both cooked and uncooked carrots. This dish is esentially a soup version of the Moroccan Carrot Salad we discussed last year. It uses the same ingredients, along with a few additions (broth, for example) to make it more soup-like.
I initially got the idea for turning salad into soup when I read a recipe in Bon Appétit magazine a few years ago. My recipe is adapted from that one, and from my carrot salad.
Prep time for this dish is about 15 minutes, with total cooking time of roughly half an hour. So you’ll be out of the kitchen in under an hour.
This recipe yields 4 to 6 servings. Leftovers keep well for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container. Or you can freeze the leftovers for up to 6 months.
- 1 pound carrots
- 1 medium purple onion (may substitute yellow or white, but I like the color and flavor of purple)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt (about half that if using regular table salt; see Notes)
- ~¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (I usually increase to 1 teaspoon for more flavor; see Notes)
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin (I usually increase to 1 teaspoon for more flavor; see Notes)
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 - 4 cups chicken broth (may substitute vegetable broth; see Notes for discussion about quantity)
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional; may substitute parsley)
- juice of 1 lemon (you’ll start with half this amount; see Step 7 of the Procedure)
- ~¼ teaspoon sugar (optional, and to taste; see Step 7 of the Procedure)
- yogurt or sour cream for garnish (optional)
- a dusting of sweet paprika or cayenne pepper for garnish (optional)
- Wash and scrape the carrots, then cut them into dice of ½ inch or less. Set aside.
- Peel the onion and cut it into dice of ½ inch or less. Peel the garlic and mince it finely (or cut into thin slices, if you prefer).
- Put a 4-quart soup kettle or Dutch oven on the stove. Turn the heat to medium. When the kettle is hot, add the olive oil. Once it’s heated (it will shimmer—this takes maybe 15 seconds), add the onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes.
- At the 5-minute mark, add the carrots and continue to sauté until the carrots begin to break down (about 5 to 10 minutes). Timing isn’t critical—you can cook them longer in the soup if necessary to soften them sufficiently.
- Once the carrots are cooked, add the cinnamon, cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Stir to incorporate the spices into the onion/carrot mixture, then sauté for 30 seconds or so.
- Add the broth, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer the soup for 15 to 20 minutes—basically until it tastes good.
- When the soup is done, you may want to use an immersion blender to blend the soup a bit (use one with a stainless shaft; plastic shafts can crack). Then right before serving, stir in the cilantro or parsley (if using) and half the lemon juice. Taste, and add more lemon juice if you like (I always do). If the flavor of the lemon is too sharp for your taste, add the optional sugar (to taste) to balance it. Also adjust salt and pepper to taste at this time.
- When you serve the soup, you may want to garnish it with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, and/or a dusting of sweet paprika or cayenne pepper.
- Although the recipe calls for ½ teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and cumin, I actually use a teaspoon of each when I make this soup (it makes for a more intense flavor). But I suggest starting with ½ teaspoon of each until you’ve had a chance to taste the soup. After it’s cooked for 10 minutes or so, you can add additional spices if the flavor seems too wimpy to you (it will be good with less; the flavor will just be more subtle).
- I generally use 4 cups of chicken broth when I make this soup, although that makes the mixture pretty liquidy. If you prefer a thicker soup, use just 3 cups (bonus: the orange of the carrots will be a bit more intense if you use less liquid).
- Vegetable stock works well in this soup. I don’t recommend using water because the flavor will be rather thin.
- If you don't have Kosher salt on hand, you can use plain table salt. In that case, though, I’d reduce the amount by about half since table salt is finer and more “condensed” than Kosher.
- Carrots are a great source of beta-carotene, which helps improve night vision for those of us with aging eyes.
“Mmm, I’m loving this soup,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Less hearty than Harira, the Moroccan Chickpea Soup you did for the last post. But wonderful as a first course.”
“Not a soup I ever had when I lived in Morocco,” I said between slurps. “But the flavoring is typical of Moroccan food.”
“It would be fun to go to Morocco together,” said Mrs K R, looking out the window at the foot of snow we had just shoveled off our sidewalk.
“I’d like to go back one of these days,” I said. “In the meantime, since we’re on a roll with Moroccan food at the moment, why don’t I do a couple more dishes?”
“You should do that great Kefta and Tomato Tagine you make,” said Mrs K R. “I really love that.”
“Deal,” I said. “And I’ll do a couscous dish of some sort, probably with dried fruit.”
“Sounds good,” said Mrs K R. “Not as good as shopping in the souks of sunny Marrakech. But I’ll take what I can get.”
You may also enjoy reading about:
Moroccan Chickpea Soup (Harira)
Moroccan Carrot Salad
Moroccan Orange and Radish Salad
Winter Squash and Bacon Chowder
Sweet Potato Soup with Chilies and Corn
Kale, Quinoa, and White Bean Soup
Lentil and Tomato Soup
Tuscan Bean and Pasta Soup
Easy Lentil Soup
White Bean and Potato Soup
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