Monday, January 30, 2012

Carrot Improv

After enjoying Mourad’s Lahlou’s carrot soup with its fresh carrot juice and vanilla (see my last post, Where Ideas Come From),  I decided to try a little riff.  Instead of his touch of curry, I used a very small amount of fresh ginger, nutmeg, and citrus zest.  I cooked the carrots in water, puréed them and reheated the puree briefly with fresh carrot and orange juices and a couple drops of vanilla.  The resulting soup had a clean, bright, fresh carrot flavor from that last minute addition of raw juice, and because I used very little fat and no cream at all in the soup. It was compellingly carrot-sweet but not too sweet and the drops of vanilla added a very subtle savory note. It seemed a bit more like a light spring soup than a rich winter dish.  I did not keep track of everything perfectly, since I was just fooling around (and rather hungry) so you will have to make do with my notes.

In a covered heavy bottom saucepan over medium to low heat, soften in a little olive oil or butter, without browning:  ½ sliced onion, two peeled garlic cloves, about ½ teaspoon grated ginger, and a sprinkling of salt.  Stir from time to time. Add about 3 cups sliced carrots, cover and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes without browning. 

Add 2-3 cups water, more salt, and a strip of orange zest removed with a vegetable peeler (about 3 inches long and ½ inch wide). Cover and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 30 minutes.  Fish out and discard the zest.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to food processor and process them until smooth, adding liquid from the pot gradually. Scrape the mixture back into the pot. Add about 2/3 cup fresh carrot juice, the grated zest of about 1/4 of the orange, juice of half of the orange, a pinch or two of nutmeg and white pepper, and a drop or two of vanilla extract.  Reheat the soup, thinning it with a little water if necessary. Correct salt and seasonings (including zest and orange juice) to taste.  Serve hot.

I think the recipe made 3-4 cups.  It was good and I ate most of it up myself without measuring the yield—and I forgot to snap a photo until it was pretty much too late.  Such is the nature of hunger for carrot soup on a Sunday afternoon.   Mint leaves or cilantro would have been a lovely garnish, and maybe a dab of crème fraiche…but again, too late.

I liked it enough to make again.

Why are there so many carrot posts on this blog? I really don’t know.


  1. Alice-- I have been wowing people with your recipes for a long time now-- thanks for all the wonderful cookbooks! I have a question for you that is unrelated to carrots. I need to make a dogbone shaped cheesecake for 75. How would I go about adapting your low fat cheesecake (a real winner every time I make it) to a 9x13 pan? Ingredient amounts and bake time in particular. I would appreciate any help you could give me-- thank you.

  2. Thank heavens for something unrelated to carrots...
    Kimberly, doing the math can help you get in the ball park. The area of the 8 inch cheesecake pan is 50 inches (remember pi r squared?) and the area of the 9x13 is 117 inches. Divide 50 into 117 and get 2.34. Multiply the ingredients in the single recipe by 2.34 and you will get ingredients for a cake that is the same height as the original. If you want a slightly taller cake for this project (maybe a good idea) multiply ingreds by 2.66, which would result in an 8 egg batter. Baking time? You'll just have to watch for signs of done-ness. Good luck.

  3. Hi Alice!
    First I must thank you for many awesome recipes. I learn so much from your recipes and writing. I especially adore 'Chocolate and the art of low fat desserts' which is still quite inventive. Thank you so much.
    Now another non-carrot question, if you may.. I saw a video of yours on youtube with Julia Child in which you have made a chocolate genoise raspberry ruffle cake. I tried making the genoise 3 times today all with relative success. I am making it in 2 6 inch by 2 inch cake pans but they keep sinking in the middle after i take them out. Is it because they are not done yet? I tried making the recipe as-is, and tried multiplying by 1.16 [for the 2 6 inch pans].
    Thanks and so glad you are updating your blog!
    Noam, all the way from Israel..

  4. The problem may have to do with small differences in flour. Flour in Israel may have a little different protein content than the flour that I used for that original recipe. When I switched from bleached all purpose flour to unbleached all purpose flour (which I now like better), my genoise was sinking in the center as it cooled too. I fixed it by increasing the amount of flour by a very tiny amount (less than 10 grams!). Try using 1.6 ounces (45 grams) flour and 1.2 ounces (34 grams) cocoa for that 4 egg recipe. Let me know if that works. And take a look at the genoise post that I am going to post in a couple of days!

  5. Ooh, I'm really looking forward to your genoise post!

    I tried it again today and they still dipped in the middle. [The edges were high but then they concaved]. I don't know if that helps, but our AP flour [at least the brand I used] is 11% protein. we have another one which is 10.5%, and our cake flour is 10%. Does it matter which one I used? I used the first one.
    I made one batch of recipe in 2 6" pans: The first one was baked for 35 minutes, and the other one for 40 minutes. One of them had a really ragged edge- I suspect it is hte longer-baked one, possibly because it was dried out and the moisture holding the genoise together and smooth-looking was gone. Is it a possible reason?
    Oh, and BTW, I used natural cocoa, not dutch-process. It is about 10-12% fat.
    Perhaps I should bake them in the middle?
    Thanks so much!

  6. Is the recipe you are using the one from the book, Baking At Julia's? Was there any improvement this time or was it exactly the same. Did you have the same problem the 8 inch size? I can't lay my hands on my copy of that exact recipe. IF you want to scan or type out the ingreds or attach it and email to me at, I will have a look and see if we are both talking about the same recipe. Sorry you are having this problem!

  7. The empty soup bowl says it all! My family loves soup, so I will give this recipe a go.

    I have been working with your recipes for years with consistent success. Thank you! For the record, I always follow them exactly the first few times and adapt them for dietary reasons when needed or just to experiment with new ideas. Thanks, Alice.

  8. Love the empty bowl, the candor and the relaxed way in which you deliver such a scrumptious sounding recipe. Thanks.

  9. Hello Alice
    I love your books and now find it difficult to think of using other recipes! I have a medical condition that means I need to eat a low fat diet most of the time, but even if I didn't need to I think I'd still prefer your way of cooking-- things just taste better with less butter and sugar. Thank you for posting the carrot torte, but do you ever make a Californian style carrot cake? I don't need all the frosting, but was hoping you might have a good cake recipe tucked that you mention carrots...