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Middle Eastern Inspired Carrot & Fennel Soup

Bram Middle Eastern Inspired Carrot & Fennel Soup

Yield:  Serves 4 - 6

Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes



This great winter warmer will remind you of a sunny summer’s day gone by. Making this pretty soup is an ideal way to use the abundance of carrots while they’re available at their best. The taste is especially stellar if you can find small Thumbelina carrots which are rich in flavor. The chili oil drizzle at the end is highly recommended. Serve as a first course starter or with flat breads and assorted Middle Eastern mezzé or condiments to make it a light healthy meal.


Ingredients

Spice Blend
1½ tsp. whole coriander seeds
1½ tsp. whole cumin seeds
½ tsp. whole fennel seeds
½ tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground ginger

Soup Base
3 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped into rough dice
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 bunches (roughly 2 lbs.) carrots, peeled, chopped into medium size coins
3 medium potatoes, chopped into rough dice
1 tsp. sugar
6 cups warm water or chicken stock
1 lemon
Salt to taste

Garnish
1 tbsp. chopped coriander
Whole milk yogurt or Greek-style yogurt

Chili Oil (Optional)
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
¼ cup olive oil


Preparation


FOR SPICE BLEND: Grind whole seeds together with mortar and pestle or in spice grinder. Place into bowl and stir in ground turmeric and ginger. Yields approximately 4 teaspoons. Set aside 2½ teaspoons.

FOR CHILI OIL: Heat crushed red pepper flakes in olive oil until warm. Set aside to infuse for 20 minutes before using.

FOR SOUP: Place clay soup pot on diffuser and add olive oil. Turn heat to medium low and let pot heat until oil starts to sizzle. Add onion and fennel and sauté for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt. Place lid on pot and let sweat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When onion is translucent and begins to turn golden around edges, add garlic and 2½ teaspoons of spice blend, and stir. Continue sweating for another minute or until garlic and spices are very fragrant. Add carrots, potatoes, sugar, and stir again to blend. Replace lid and let sweat for a few more minutes. Add enough warm water or stock to cover, reserving one cup. Bring to boil and reduce heat to low and simmer. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are soft. Cool slightly. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return to pot. (For a coarser texture,  puree with a handheld immersion blender.) Salt to taste and add squeeze of lemon to taste. Thin with reserved water or stock if desired.

Ladle soup into bowls. Top each serving with spoonful of yogurt and sprinkle with coriander. Drizzle with chili oil if desired.

An assortment of mezzé goes great with this soup, all served with warmed flat bread. Here are some recommendations just to name a few:

Hummus
Olives
Roasted peppers in olive oil
Baba ghanoush