This weekend found me with a little bit of a carrot glut. Over brunch last weekend, and discussions with some fellow kiwi food bloggers carrot soup got a pretty bad rap, however I do think I have come up with a concoction that transforms carrot soup from the ordinary to something a little rustic, full of flavour and perfect for lunch on chilly Winter's day. I had considered a batch of carrot and coriander soup but I was in the mood for something more robust and this one hit the spot.
Roasting the carrots adds a sweetness and the lentils add texture and another layer of flavour.
Spiced Roast Carrot and Lentil Soup with Toasted Dukkah Flat Breads
1.5kg (3lbs) carrots, peeled and sliced length ways
Salt and pepper
Pinch chilli flakes
1 onion, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
3/4 cup red lentils
2 litres vegetable or chicken stock
To serve - natural yoghurt, dukkah (recipe below, chilli flakes, and fresh coriander
Preheat oven to 200C/400F
Place the carrots in a roasting dish. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle of the chilli flakes and drizzle with a little olive oil. Toss everything together and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes until tender and roasted. Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle roughly chop.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, chilli and season with salt and pepper. Saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin and smoked paprika and fry for a moment or 2 until fragrant. Add the lentils and fry for a moment or 2 more. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. To finish add the carrots and blend with a hand-held blender until all blended,it will still have a little texture, but that is what I want from a rustic hearty soup. Season to taste.
Toasted Dukkah Flat Breads
Wholewheat pita or flat breads
For the dukkah
Dukkah is an Egyptian staple, a mixture of coarsely crushed nuts, sesame seeds and spices and there are a myriad of variations out there so feel free to mix it up with different nuts and spices. Traditionally dukkah is eaten with bread that has been dipped in olive oil which makes for a great pre dinner nibble. A liberal sprinkling will also liven up a salad or it could be used to create a crunch crumb for some lamb cutlets.
Makes 1 cup
50g (1.75oz, 1/3 cup) white sesame seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
Salt and pepper
In a frying pan dry fry the sesame, coriander and cumin seeds along with the hazelnuts. Just for a 1-2 minutes to allow them to become toasty and fragrant. Let them cool a little and then grind to a coarse powder either in a food processor or a pestle and mortar. Season with salt and pepper and store in an air tight jar.
Split the flat breads or pita and place on a baking tray, scatter with the dukkah, season with salt and drizzle with a little olive oil. Pop in to a 190C/375F oven for 5 minutes or until crisp and golden. Keep an eye on them as they can go from golden to charred fast! Remove from the oven and allow them to cool for a few minutes before break in to shards.
Ladle the soup in to bowls. Top with a dollop of yoghurt, a sprinkle of dukkah and chilli flakes plus a little fresh coriander and serve with the crispy flat breads.
The soup is filling and comforting, a little sweetness from the carrots and just a little heat coming through from the chillies and smoked paprika. The lentils make it robust and hearty. As with many dishes the garnishes bring it to life. The cool, creamy tart yoghurt , nutty toasted dukkah and just a little heat from the chilli finished with a fresh aromatic hit from the fresh coriander make for flavourful and comforting soup. I love the creamy, cool slight tartness that that the yoghurt delivers as it melts in to the soup. Then there is a little toasty crunch from the dukkah and warmth from the chilli flakes.
Not to mention dunking those crispy shards of dukkah coated flat breads which were terribly moreish and I think they may well be making a regular appearance as a pre dinner nibble or tasty little snack dipped in some hummus.