Cookie + Kate’s creamy roasted carrot soup, as made by the Accidental Balabusta. (photo by Shelley Civkin)
Nothing screams for comfort food quite like a COVID-19 pandemic. And nothing spells comfort food quite like soup. So, while the spirit of sharing is upon me, I present to you: roasted carrot soup. I’d love to say I made the recipe up, but you know I’d be lying. Credit where credit is due, and all that. It’s a recipe by blogger Kate, who, along with her canine sidekick, Cookie, make up the duo Cookie + Kate. (Why the dog gets top billing, I don’t know. Maybe he’s the taste-tester?)
I suppose it was one of these endless pandemic days where I was stumped for dinner ideas and thought – soup. It’s filling, especially if you add a nice sourdough or baguette, and you don’t need to make a bunch of other stuff, really. A salad, maybe? Perfect for lazy cooks.
The Cookie + Kate recipe is easy, if time-consuming, but you won’t regret it, I promise. And it’s creamy and dreamy, with no dairy in it at all. Prosaic as it sounds, this soup is like hitting the culinary lottery. Don’t be put off by the multitude of instructions; it’s worth every single one. Being a lover of platitudes, you know what they say – the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
CREAMY ROASTED CARROT SOUP
2 pounds carrots
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3/4 tsp fine sea salt, divided
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 to 2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 to 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Peel carrots then cut them on the diagonal so each piece is about a half-inch thick at the widest part.
- Place carrots in a plastic bag with two tablespoons olive oil and half teaspoon salt. Massage them so all carrots are coated in oil. Arrange on the baking sheet in a single layer.
- Roast carrots until they’re caramelized on the edges and easily pierced with a fork, 35 to 40 minutes, flipping halfway.
- Once the carrots are almost done, warm the remaining one tablespoon olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and quarter teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and turning translucent, five to seven minutes.
- Add the garlic, coriander and cumin. Cook until fragrant while stirring constantly, about 30 seconds to one minute. Pour in the vegetable broth and water, while scraping up any browned bits on the bottom with a wooden spoon.
- Add the roasted carrots to the pot once they’re cooked. Add the butter, lemon juice and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.
- Once the soup is done cooking, remove the pot from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. Then, carefully transfer the hot soup to a blender, working in batches if necessary. (Don’t fill past the maximum fill line.)
- Blend until completely smooth. Add additional salt and pepper if necessary. It’s ready to serve.
- Keeps well in the refrigerator, covered, for about four days, or for several months in the freezer. But, believe me, it won’t make it to the freezer.
APPLE RUM NOODLE KUGEL
(Since it is mere weeks until Pesach, now is the time to get your kugel on. This one is a boozy take on the traditional apple noodle kugel. It’s sweet, slightly alcoholic and scrumptious.)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 large apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1/4” to 1/2” pieces
12 oz curly broad egg noodles
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp rum
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9”-by-13” baking dish.
- Begin heating a large pot of water.
- Melt one tablespoon butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet and add the apples. Cook, tossing in the pan, until they begin to colour and are slightly tender, about five minutes. Remove from heat.
- When the water comes to a boil, add the noodles. Cook as per the package instructions, then drain through a colander and add them to the pan with the apples. Add the remaining tablespoon butter and toss together until the butter melts. Set aside to cool.
- Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the sugar and beat together. Beat in the vanilla, rum and cinnamon.
- Add the noodles and apples and fold everything together. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
- Bake covered with foil, for approximately 20 minutes, then uncovered for the remaining 20-25 minutes, until the kugel is set and the sides are browned. If you like the noodles crispier on top, remove the foil a bit earlier. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
The rum makes it just a little naughty, and exceedingly rich-tasting. Definitely company-worthy. Not that we can have people over during a pandemic, but still. Like my father Sidney, alav hashalom, used to say: “I’m the most important company in my own home!” That, by the way, was his standard response whenever anyone asked him why he always used a linen napkin (even at breakfast). The fact was, the paper ones slipped off his lap, but never mind. He deserved the best.
When everything you need to know about 2020 (and 2021, so far) can be summed up by Velcro, Spandex, Zoom and facemasks, it’s nice to kick it up a notch just for, well, no good reason at all, except that you can. So, treat yourself to a little mid-week decadence and throw in that kugel rum. You might even want to indulge in a little shot glass of the stuff before dinner, just to round out the meal. Or not.
Shelley Civkin, aka the Accidental Balabusta, is a happily retired librarian and communications officer. For 17 years, she wrote a weekly book review column for the Richmond Review. She’s currently a freelance writer and volunteer.