English Pea and Carrot Soup with Mint and Coriander

This silky smooth soup announces springtime and can be served hot or cold. Finished in an olive oil emulsion instead of cream, it gains a creamy texture while maintaining a lightness of taste and texture. The subtlety of its seasoning, carrot-coriander and English pea-mint, adds a complex yet delicate flavor.Preparing the two soups in separate batches and pouring them together just at serving time not only adds a colorful touch, it also preserves the integrity of the distinct flavors.Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 500g/1.2lbs organic carrots
  • 1 kg/2.4lbs fresh English peas in their pods (or about 500g/1.2lbs shelled)
  • 1 tsp coriander grains
  • 20g/0.7oz fresh mint (a few sprigs)
  • 12 Tbsp olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt for cooking
  • Fleur de sel

Start by grinding the coriander with a mortar and pestle. Set aside.  Wash the mint and remove the stems. Set the leaves aside.Shell the fresh English peas by pressing each pod between your fingers to release the peas.You should have about half the weight in peas and can discard the shells.Peel and slice the carrots thinly so they cook quickly and evenly preserving most nutrients.Bring two pots of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. One for  the carrots and one for the peas.Plunge the carrots in one of the pots. Return to a boil. Lower the heat and cook on medium for about 10-12 minutes.Meanwhile plunge the peas in the other pot of boiling water.When all the peas float up to the surface, about 5 minutes, they are cooked.Remove the peas from the pot with  a skimmer into a bowl, preserving the cooking liquids for adding to the soup. When the carrots are tender remove them from the pot with a skimmer in the same way as for the peas, reserving the cooking liquid. Place the peas in a tall beaker with 6 tbsp of olive oil and some of the pea cooking liquid. Process with an immersion blender, adding more liquid as needed, up to 2-2 1/4 cups of cooking liquid total.  Place back into the pot, after discarding the excess liquid, add the mint leaves and process until fully blended. You will obtain a somewhat grainy texture.Pour the pea soup in a chinois or fine mesh strainer.Over a bowl to recuperate a smooth textured soup. Press as much of the liquid as possible. You can reserve the pulp for another use (let me know if you’d like some suggestions).  Scrape the outer pulp into the soup.   Whisk until homogenous.  Adjust seasoning with some Fleur de sel. Set aside.Place the carrots in a tall beaker.   Process with an immersion blender adding 6 Tbps of olive oil and some of the cooking liquid from the carrots.   Continue processing until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl. Add the freshly ground coriander and adjust the consistency with more cooking liquid until it reaches the same texture as the pea soup. Again, about 2-2 1/4 cup of added liquid total.  Pour both soups into each serving bowl simultaneously.   This way both soups retain their separateness. Using a spoon, gently mix the two on the surface.  To make a design.  And finish with a touch of herbs, chives or mint. Enjoy!

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Carrot Cappuccino

On a snowy winter day, carrots had arrived from the farm, the smells of T’s morning espresso still permeated the air in the kitchen, I had just made fresh almond milk the day before…all the perfect ingredients to make a carrot cappuccino I thought.

IMG_3050Ready to be enjoyed with some ribbon carrot chips as garnish and some cracked coriander seeds for a flavor twist.

IMG_2990Ingredients:
1 large bunch, about 1.2kg/2lbs10oz organic carrots
2 cups + 3 Tbsp homemade almond milk
4 Tbsp strong espresso
2 tsp coriander seeds
Coarse sea salt
Fleur de sel
Olive oil
Preheat oven to 350F

IMG_2993Peel the carrots. Continue peeling one of the carrots to create ribbons. Keep the center of the carrot to chop along with the bunch.

IMG_3001Place a little olive oil in a small bowl to coat the carrot ribbons. Place them on a Silpat on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.

IMG_3002Meanwhile, chop the remaining carrots. If you prefer, you can grate them-they’ll cook even faster.

IMG_3004After 10 minutes, the carrot ribbons will have started to shrink. Flip them to the other side. Lower the heat to 300 and bake for another 15 minutes approximately.

IMG_3005Once the carrot ribbons are baked into chips, set them on a wire rack to cool.

IMG_3006Bring 4 cups of water with a generous pinch of coarse salt to a boil. Place the chopped carrots in the boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes.

IMG_3016Drain the carrots over a bowl to save the cooking broth.

IMG_3023Place the carrots in the beaker of an immersion blender along with a few spoonfuls of cooking liquid.

IMG_3026Purée the carrots using an immersion blender. You might have to do this in two batches depending on the size of your beaker.

IMG_3033Place the puréed carrots back in the pot. Whisk in the almond milk and espresso. Heat gently to warm the mixture.

IMG_3015Crack the coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle.

IMG_3034Mix 1 tsp of cracked coriander seeds into the carrot mixture and reserve the other tsp for serving.

IMG_3038Pour into cappuccino serving glasses or cups.

IMG_3042Gently warm the 3 Tbsp of almond milk remaining and froth using an electric frother.

IMG_3050-0Spoon the froth on top of the carrot mixture, garnish with some carrot chips, and sprinkle with cracked coriander and fleur de sel to taste. Enjoy!

Ginger Carrot Soup with Coral Lentils

A perfect balance of flavors, and healthy and nutritious ingredients. Simple, elegant… and vegan!

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This soup is easy to make. I like to add coral lentils in a variety of soups. They act as a binding ingredient and provide a more velvety texture when puréed. They marry particularly well with pumpkin soup, or here carrot soup.

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Ingredients:
6-8 large carrots
2 celery stalks (can be omitted)
1/2 red onion (or yellow for a more subtle flavor)
3/4 cup coral lentils
1 inch ginger root
2 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
A few parsley springs

20130324-120933.jpg Wash and slice the celery stalks lengthwise. Peel the onion leaving the roots attached as they help to hold the onion while chopping, as well as to keep it together so it is easier to handle.

20130324-121149.jpg Chop the celery. Start slicing the onion horizontally, almost to the roots, but do not cut through the roots. You can slice it 3 or 4 times this way, starting at the bottom and making your way to the top.

20130324-121416.jpg Then, slice vertically, again being careful not to cut all the way to the roots so the onion still holds together.

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Now you can keep slicing vertically,but perpendicular to the previous direction. This way you obtain a perfectly chopped onion.

20130324-135915.jpg Place olive oil at the bottom of a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and celery and turn down the heat to low to let the onions and celery sweat until translucent.

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Peel the carrots. Slice lengthwise, then into sticks to chop.
In the same way, slice the ginger and cut it into thin sticks
Peel the garlic cloves, slice in half to remove the green inner part. Crush and chop.

20130324-141737.jpg Add the chopped carrots, garlic and ginger.

20130327-063427.jpg Add about 6 to 7 cups of water. Less water will result in more of a puree consistency, more water will result in a smoother, more velvety texture. Add salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

20130327-063515.jpg Add the lentils and simmer for another 20 minutes or so.

20130327-063634.jpg When the soup is cooked, let cool a few minutes. Transfer to a food processor in batches.

20130327-063737.jpg For better results, start processing with a small amount, then keep adding more of the soup and process as you go. To adjust the consistency, you can always add more water while you purée the soup if you would like. Be sure to blend well in the food processor before returning the soup to the pot.

20130327-063854.jpg Transfer back to the pot, bring it back to a boil and adjust seasonings as necessary.

20130327-064101.jpg For serving, finely chop a few springs of parsley.

20130327-064200.jpg Serve in individual bowls. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. You might even add a few drops of olive oil on top for taste and decoration. Enjoy!

Glazed Carrots and Fennel

Glazed carrots paired with fennel are a beautiful accompaniment to grilled or sautéed fish.

Successful glazing resides in taking time. The process simply cannot be rushed.

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Glazed carrots and fennel with garlic and thyme.

Preparation is fairly simple. Clean and cut the fresh ingredients, assemble, and simmer. The simmering process is slow, but also low maintenance. Just check periodically that the vegetables are cooking evenly and that the liquid is not evaporating too quickly.

Plan to start preparation for this dish about two hours ahead. Simmering can easily take an hour to an hour and a half.

The nature of glazed vegetables is to be very sweet, typically because of added sugar. As we attempt to keep a healthy approach to our cooking, I have increasingly been using agave syrup instead of sugar. Agave syrup is a natural sweetener that can be used by health conscious cooks to replace the high-glycemic and refined sugars we want to avoid.

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Ingredients:

8 medium to large carrots

1 fennel bulb

6 garlic cloves

1 cup water

3/4 cup agave syrup

3 tablespoons olive oil

a few springs of thyme

The glazing process considerably shrinks the vegetables. Use a large pan, deep enough to accommodate all the raw vegetables. I like using a heavy cast iron pan for slow cooking, where the heat is evenly distributed and held throughout the cooking time.

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Garlic and thyme. A classic combination to deliver the fragrances of Provence. We did not grow thyme, as it grew wild, we used to pick it fresh from the grounds on our Sunday afternoon walks through the rocky and hilly countryside.

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Peel and cut the carrots into even sizes.

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Clean the fennel bulb. Cut in half and slice evenly.

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Moderately heat the olive oil in a heavy cast iron pan, with deep sides, and place the carrots and fennel in the pan.

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Peel the cloves of garlic, slice in half lengthwise, remove the inner green part.

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To remove the small thyme leaves, hold a spring by one end. With your other hand, slide the tips of your fingers along the stem to catch and detach the delicate leaves without crushing them.

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You’ll quickly accumulate the leaves, leaving the stems bare.

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Add the thyme leaves and halved garlic cloves to the vegetables.

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Add the agave and water, bring to a boil, and simmer… for about one to one and a half hour.

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By the time the liquids have been absorbed, the vegetables will have acquired a beautiful shine, with a tender texture, and a sweet taste. Enjoy!