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Eric Akis: Pesto stars in this tasty carrot soup

This easy to make, fine-tasting soup is made with locally grown carrots.
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This silky carrot soup is topped with a flavourful spoonful of carrot-top pesto. ERIC AKIS

If you want to make a fine tasting carrot soup, the logical place to start is to obtain some fine tasting carrots. If you frequent farm stands and farm markets, doing so won’t be a problem, because when I’ve done that recently locally grown, shimmering orange bunches of carrots were widely available.

Those types of early, thinner skinned, smaller in size carrots, bundled up with their bright green tops still attached are sometimes call snap top carrots. The idea being that, you snap off the tops of the carrots before using them.

I did that for my soup, but kept some of the tops to use in a pesto I spooned on to the soup just before serving it. The silky, pureed carrot soup topped with the full-of-flavour pesto could be served hot or cold, see recipe for details.

Carrot Soup with Carrot Top Pesto

Easy to make, fine tasting soup made with locally grown carrots, accented with bright-green pesto, made with the tops of those carrots.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 30 minutes

Makes: four (about 1 1/2 cup) servings

2 Tbsp butter or olive oil

2 1/2 cups sliced snap top carrots (see Note)

1 cup diced onion

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, plus more if needed (divided)

• pinch ground nutmeg

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• Carrot Top Pesto (see recipe below)

Melt butter, or place oil, in a pot set over medium heat (my pot was 8-inches wide, and 6-inches tall). Add carrots and onion and cook until softened, about four to five minutes. Mix in the flour and cook one minute more.

While stirring, slowly pour in one cup of the stock. When mixture becomes thick, slowly mix in the remaining 3 cups of stock. Bring soup to a gentle simmer, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain that simmer. Simmer soup until carrots are very tender, about 15 minutes.

Purée the soup in a food processor or blender, or in the pot with an immersion (hand) blender. Blend a bit more stock into the soup, if you find it too thick (see Eric’s options).

Set the soup back on the heat, return to a simmer, and then taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Ladle the soup into bowls, top each serving with some of the carrot top pesto and serve.

Note: Two bunches of snap top carrots should yield the amount of sliced carrots needed here. Trim the tops off the carrots and scrub them well before slicing. No need to peel them if their skin is thin. I cut the carrots, widthwise, into 1/2-inch thick slices. Use some of the carrot tops in the pesto recipe below and save the rest to chop and add to a salad, such as tabbouleh, or soup stock.

Eric’s option: On a hot summer day, you could serve the soup cold. To do so, once you’ve made it, cool the soup to room temperature, and then refrigerate at least three hours, or until very cold. To serve, ladled the cold soup into chilled bowls, top with some the pesto and serve.

Carrot Top Pesto

Earthy, vibrant-green, carrot tops are blended into this pesto also made with such things as basil, garlic, walnuts and Parmesan cheese, ingredients that will richly enhance the taste of the carrot soup.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: none

Makes: about 1 cup

1 cup coarsely chopped carrot tops (see Note)

1 large garlic clove, sliced

2 Tbsp walnut pieces

1/3 cup packed basil leaves

2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more if needed

Place all ingredients, except oil, in a food processor and pulse until chopped and well combined. Add the oil and process until well blended. Add a bit more oil if you find the pesto too thick. Refrigerate the pesto in a tightly sealed jar with a skim of olive oil on top until needed for the soup. It will keep several days (see Eric options).

Note: Wash and dry the carrot tops well before chopping and using in the pesto.

Eric’s options: This recipe could be doubled. Any leftover pesto you have after using some on the soup could be frozen in ice-cube trays, unmoulded and kept frozen in a freezer bag or container until needed.

eakis@timescolonist.com

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.