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~ A Dream of a Creamy Caraway-Spiced Carrot Soup w/Carrot Coins & Caraway-Seeded Rye Croutons!!! ~

IMG_2678I believe I've loved carrots since the day my mom fed me my first spoonful of Gerber strained carrots -- right out of the jar.  Next to onions and celery, the carrot gets used often in my kitchen. I'll eat carrots raw, boiled, sauteed, steamed or roasted.  I like them candied, pickled or marinated.  I have no ax to grind with folks using canned or frozen carrots as a time saver.  I love carrots in soups, stews and braises, I make a great carrot souffle, and, let's not forget carrot cake!

Did you know that besides being a great source of vitamins and minerals they contain more natural sugar than any other vegetable aside from beets?  It is definitely their sweetness (which intensifies during any cooking process) that draws me to them.  Research has even shown that nutrients like beta-carotene and phenolic acid increase with cooking, but, for me, that is neither here nor there because I'd eat carrots even if they weren't so good for me.  I love carrots!

IMG_2556The inspiration for this recipe comes from my Eastern European heritage.

Soups and stews in our house were always served with bread and butter.  Rye bread, more specifically caraway-seeded rye, was, hands-down, our family's favorite.  We all loved the slightly anise taste of caraway.  Eastern Europeans have a fondness for caraway seed much like Italians have an affinity for fennel seed.  Caraway is said to be Europe's oldest spice condiment, with the Romans being credited for spreading the seeds around in ancient times.  

This "peasant spice" has a bold, aggressive, peppery, earthy flavor that cuts through rich dishes and breathes life into bland ones.  When I was growing up, caraway got added to roasted, sauteed or braised vegetable side-dishes like beets, cabbage, carrots and potatoes.  It showed up in potato salad, coleslaw and sauerkraut, and, it got added to pork roast and mixed into pork sausage too.  Even today, my refrigerator is never without a chunk of caraway-seeded Havarti cheese.  Mom never made a "cream of any kind of soup" because dad detested cream soups, but, once I got out on my own, it didn't take me long to come up with this one -- just for me!

IMG_2503Carrots & caraway are a delectable combo.  Native to Central Europe:

The caraway plant is a member of the carrot family!

IMG_25394  tablespoons salted butter

1 1/2  cups diced yellow or sweet onion

1 1/2  pounds peeled and 1/4"-thick coined carrots + 1 additional cup peeled and coined carrots for garnish (see below)

coarsely-ground sea salt, about 20-25 grinds from a mill

coarsely-ground peppercorn blend, about 40-50 grinds from a mill

1 1/2  teaspoons whole caraway seeds, ground to a powder in an electric spice grinder (Note:  this will yield a scant tablespoon of powdered caraway.)

3  cups chicken or vegetable stock, your choice

1/2  cup heavy or whipping cream

1  cup additional 1/4" sliced carrots, mentioned above, for making carrot coin garnish

16  small, thin slices caraway-seeded "party rye" bread, for making crouton garnish

small sprigs fresh parsley, for garnish  

IMG_2524~ Step 1.  Peel and coin the carrots as directed.  In "food speak", "to coin" is a verb meaning to cut a cylindrical object into a coin shape. You need 1 1/2 pounds of carrots to make the soup, plus, 1 additional cup to make the coins for garnish.  If you have a kitchen scale, now is the time to get it out and use it to weigh those going into your soup.

IMG_2511~ Step 2. Grind the caraway seed to a powder.

IMG_2559~ Step 3.  In a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the diced onion.  Increase heat to medium-high and saute for about 1-2 minutes, until onion is just starting to get soft and translucent.  

IMG_2568Add the carrots and season with salt and pepper. Lower heat to medium, stir and continue to saute, stirring frequently, until carrots are fork tender, about 10 minutes.

IMG_2576~ Step 4.  Stir in the powdered caraway seed and cook until fragrant, about 1 more minute.

IMG_2583Add the stock. Adjust heat to simmer gently and cook, uncovered for 20 minutes. Carrots will be very, very soft. Remove from heat, cover pan and set aside for 1 hour.

Note:  At this point, the soup needs to cool before it can be processed to a smooth texture.  While the soup is cooling, use the time to make the carrot coins and caraway-rye croutons:

IMG_2534 IMG_2533~ Step 6.  In a 1-quart saucepan, bring 1 cup of water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to a boil.  Add the reserved coined carrots and simmer until just fork tender, about 3 minutes.  Do not overcook.  Drain into a colander and rinse under cold water to halt the cooking process.  Set aside, or:

IMG_2549Wanna have some fun?  Use a mini-cookie cutter to cut the coins into fun shapes.  My grandmother always said, "waste not, want not".  Just toss all of the tasty leftover bits and pieces back into the pan of cooling soup.

IMG_2600~ Step 7.  Pop the party-rye slices in your toaster until golden, or:

IMG_2614Use cookie cutter again and place shaped slices on rack of a toaster oven.  Toast until golden, 2-3 minutes.  Remove and cool.

IMG_2626 IMG_2620Step 8. Transfer all or half of the soup mixture to work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade.  

Note:  How much soup you can puree at once will depend upon the size of your processor.  My large-capacity Cuisinart DLC-X PLUS easily handles it all at once.

With motor running, process until thick and smooth, 45-60 seconds.  

IMG_2640 IMG_2632                                    ~ Step 9. Return pureed soup to pan.  Stir in the cream. Over medium heat, stirring frequently, heat until steaming.  Do not simmer or boil.

IMG_2629Taste and adjust seasoning for salt and pepper,   Portion and serve.

Garnish each bowl w/a few carrot coins & caraway croutons...

IMG_2691... and eat your romatic little heart out!

IMG_2686A Dream of a Creamy Caraway-Spiced Carrot Soup w/Carrot Coins & Caraway-Seeded Rye Croutons!!!:  Recipe yields 5 cups or 4-6 servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; vegetable peeler; kitchen scale; electric spice grinder or mortar and pestle; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; large spoon or spatula; 1-quart saucepan; colander; toaster or toaster oven; food processor; soup ladle

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d078198b970cCook's Note:  Spring is coming and one of my favorite things to make with another of my favorite veggies, asparagus, is ~ My Asparagus, Smoked Salmon and Havarti Tart ~.  Surprise surprise:  there are caraway seeds in both the crust and the cheese in this decadent dish. Just click into Categories 2, 9 or 14 to get the recipe!

PS:  Today's carrot soup is a great side dish to this flavorful tart!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015) 


Thanks Teresa! I served it to two friends of ours on Tuesday night -- both vegetarians. They loved it. I wish I had made a double batch as we barely had enough for one cup each leftover (for Joe and I the next day). It's really not labor intensive -- if you simply coin the carrots instead of making the hearts -- but, I was "in the mood" to fuss!

This is a beautiful blog, Mel, and a true labor of LOVE. What a flavor profile this must have! <3

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