carrot and coriander soup

i always find it interesting to realise that there are some very basic dishes, which people refer to having on a  regular basis, which i have never tried. carrot and coriander soup was, until recently, one such dish.

i think it’s because i’m not a huge fan of carrots so rarely think of them as the focal point for a dish. however, the gift of a couple of kilos of carrots (from my friend sandra who recently fell foul of the internet shopping gremlins, receiving excessive quantities of both carrots and leeks!) got me looking for carrot recipes and i decided it was time to give this classic a go.

i used a delia smith recipe and was pleasantly surprised. i think i’d assumed it would be all about adding fresh coriander leaves, resulting in quite a fragrant soup. the reality is that it uses coriander seeds as well as the leaves which makes a earthier, gently spiced soup which is perfect for the miserable grey weather we’re having.

delia’s carrot and coriander soup (serves 6)

900 g carrots, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

25 g butter

1 small clove garlic, crushed

1.2 litres chicken or vegetable stock

3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander, plus 6 small sprigs, to garnish

3 tablespoons crème fraîche

salt and freshly ground black pepper

begin by dry-roasting the coriander seeds in a small frying pan over a medium heat, stirring and tossing them around for 1-2 minutes, or until they begin to look toasted and start to jump in the pan. now tip them into a pestle and mortar and crush them coarsely.

next, heat the butter in a large saucepan, then add the chopped carrots, garlic and three-quarters of the crushed coriander seeds. stir the carrots in the buttery juices and crushed seeds, then cover the pan and let the vegetables cook over a gentle heat until they are beginning to soften – about 10 minutes. next, add the stock and season with salt and pepper and bring everything up to the boil.

then reduce the heat to low and simmer for a further 15-20 minutes, partially covered, or until all the vegetables are tender. leave the soup to cool a little, then you can liquidise the whole lot in batches (a large bowl to put each batch in is helpful here). after that, return the purée to the pan and stir in the chopped fresh coriander and 2 tablespoons of the crème fraîche. re-heat the soup, then taste to check the seasoning and serve in warmed bowls and garnish each one with a swirl of crème fraîche, a sprinkling of the remaining toasted coriander seeds and a sprig of fresh coriander.