One day last week I went out to the garage refrigerator for carrots. It’s a common occurrence at our house as I typically buy and store a 5-pound bag of carrots in the produce bin of that fridge. While it sounds like a lot of carrots, they’re cheap in that quantity ($2.99 for 5 pounds–what else is less than 60 cents a pound?) and they last a long time. Even better, I’m never out of them for soup, stew, or just for a vegetable. It’s also not terribly unusual for me to make carrot soup as it’s lovely, healthy, fast, and can be made in several different flavor profiles. I didn’t start out with carrot soup in mind on said day, but I certainly got there pretty fast as my carrots were growing white hair — sprouting, getting ready for planting! I peeled and used the carrot I needed, but knew carrot soup, cake, bread, soufflé, salad, or gratin was in the offing. Because I wasn’t throwing away 8 or 9 carrots no matter how little they cost.
I’m reminded of a simple meme that says volumes. It goes something like, “A single carrot doesn’t seem too awfully important. Unless it took you 3 months to grow it.” And, by the way, if you’re lucky enough to get carrots with all the green frills on top, the green part is edible, too. A little carrot top pesto might be good for the soul. VEGETABLES ARE AMAZING!Jump to Recipe
That sweet germ of an idea planted, I was also putting the last touches on the menu for a dinner party for really good friends and, it being summer, wondered about a cold carrot soup for a first course. Maybe with cream, as I had cream that needed using. Ginger flew through my brain; it’s a fine pairing for carrots. I had a knob of happy fresh ginger (isn’t all ginger happy?) in my kitchen freezer. I’d do it, I thought. I’d make a cold, cream of carrot soup with ginger for a first course and call it a bisque. Why not? It was, wasn’t it? I thought it’d be fun. And how might I garnish it? With fresh herb flowers as the garden is full of them. (So that’s how this happened. How do you get inspired in the kitchen??)
A classic French bisque is made with broth from shellfish — either crab, lobster, shrimp, or crayfish — although thick, cream-based vegetable soups are often also called bisques. Originally, a bisque was thickened not with cream but with rice and the ground shells of crustaceans. The word bisque, “crayfish soup” in French, stems either from the Bay of Biscay or the technique of bis cuites, or “twice cooked.”Vocabulary.com
Here’s about how it went, somewhat of a trial and error process with an all’s well that
ends tastes well ending:
And while I’m completely hooked on today’s version, here are carrot soups I’ve loved in other years on More Time at the Table:
More carrot soups to see about:
- Carrot and Ginger Soup with Carrot-Top Pesto/MattAbdoo/TODAY
- Curried Carrot Soup/RACHAELRAY/FOODNETWORK
If you didn’t decide to make one of the other carroty favorites, try this recipe. It might be a lovely start for a Father’s Day dinner.
Chilled Carrot-Ginger Bisque
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- Small pinch crushed red pepper
- 1 pound medium carrots, unpeeled unless hairy/sprouting, chopped (8-10 carrots, approximately)
- 1 large Spanish onion, chopped
- 1 medium apple, cored and left unpeeled, chopped
- 1 small plump garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt-I use Morton's
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger-plus more to taste at the end of cooking
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- ½ – 1 cup heavy cream depending on desired thickness and taste
- Chive flowers or minced chives for garnish
- Melt butter and crushed red pepper over medium-low flame in a 6-8 quart soup pot. Tip in carrots, onion, apple, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Stir, cover, and let cook 10-15 minutes or until everything is softening. Make sure to stir a time or two while cooking.
- Add both gingers; stir. Pour in the chicken broth. Cover, raise heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook uncovered until all of the ingredients are very tender—another 15 – 20 minutes. If mixture becomes too thick, add 1/2 cup water or broth.
- Remove pot from heat and purée carefully for several minutes using a handheld immersion blender or in the food processor or blender. Taste and adjust seasonings. Let cool to room temperature and whisk in ½ cup heavy cream. Taste again for seasonings, adding another teaspoon of grated fresh ginger if needed and additional cream if you’d like the soup thinner or creamier. If you'd like a really smooth bisque, pass it through a fine mesh sieve. Chill for several hours or overnight, which is even better. Taste one last time for seasoning. If too thick after chilling, whisk in a little more cream, broth, or water. Serve cold garnished with chive flowers or minced fresh chives.Store leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator for a day or two. Freeze the soup after cooling and without the cream for 4-6 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, add cream, taste/season, and chill again for a few hours before serving.
CHANGE IT UP AND MORE
- The flavor profile of this soup could run in several different directions. Carrots have an on-going love affair with cumin (a typical element of curry powder); try a teaspoon of freshly ground cumin rather than ginger. Taste and adjust seasonings. For a curried carrot soup, use 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder in place of the ginger (you could keep a little of the ginger, too) and coconut milk instead of heavy cream. For an herby fall sort of feel, go with a teaspoon and a half of dried thyme, a pinch of crumbled rosemary, and a bay leaf you’ll hopefully remember to remove before blending.
- VEGAN? LACTOSE FREE? See Notes at bottom of the recipe.
- No apple? Use another carrot or two or a pear if you have one.
- Short on carrots? Swap in some celery, chopped zucchini, parsnips, turnips, or potatoes. The color of the soup will change accordingly.
- Puréeing by hand/building biceps: You can use a food mill or mash with a potato masher and press the soup through a fine mesh sieve using a wooden spoon, etc. The world ate puréed soups long before electricity. The finer the original chop of the vegetables before cooking — or the longer the soup is cooked — the easier the puréeing no matter the method.
- Puréed Soup Common Mistakes/BONAPPETIT (I disagree about the food processor note in this article, but I have an incredible machine, a large model Breville.)
- Tractor Ted – Munchy Crunchy (Short young children’s film from the UK about how carrots are grown and harvested. Worth a peek at any age!)
- You might have a reason to make a first course soup for a summer dinner party, but if not, this bowl of cold goodness would be perfect to round out a green salad dinner on a warm night. Add a loaf of crusty bread and there’s your light meal. Invite a friend over to watch a movie or the stars and share this soup.
- WINE? Call up a little dry or off-dry Riesling into the kitchen for this soup. Check with your wine shop for German or Washington state or NY State wineries. If you don’t drink it all, Riesling is a fun pairing for just about any cheese you have.
- DESSERT? Maybe not in this heat. But if you’re jonesing for something summery for a special night, scoop up my Strawberry-Amaretto Ice Cream.
REDUCING FOOD WASTE WITH THIS RECIPE:
- Save your carrot and onion scraps in a bag in the freezer for stock or soup. You know my drill.
- If you’ve opened a quart of chicken broth, warm up the last cup for a snack or freeze for later.
- What’s left of a pint of heavy or whipping cream could do so many things, but if you’re hard up for ideas, mix it with milk and make a cup or two of real hot chocolate. Treat yourself to a lovely creamy cup of morning coffee. Whip some cream to top your ice cream. Other thoughts here.
- Bought a knob of fresh ginger? You can put the rest in a jar covered with sherry and store in the fridge or freeze it in a small plastic bag/container. If you’d rather, you can buy a jar of minced or grated fresh ginger. Think about a fun stir-fry next week.
- Composting? If not, contact a Compost Pickup Service and let them take care of all of it for you.
- Did you grab a container of fresh chives at the store? Use the rest for garnishing nearly anything you cook; stir into scrambled eggs, cream cheese, goat cheese; or sprinkle into your salad greens. Toss any sad and droopy herbs into soup.
Ginger isn’t just another pretty flavor. It has been used as a medicinal spice for thousands of years. It’s a yang, or hot, food (read warming and invigorating) in the food division of China’s yin-yang philosophy of balance. And it is mentioned in the Ayurvedic texts of India’s traditional healers. When she wasn’t baking, your grandma may have prescribed ginger ale for a tummy ache; it’s long been considered a remedy for indigestion and motion sickness. The health food set also touts ginger as a protective against colds, flu, arthritis, circulatory problems and certain cancers, and lately, medical researchers have been conducting studies of its efficacy in several of these areas.Wine Enthusiast
If you liked this, you might like my no-cook, cold SPICY CUCUMBER-FETA SOUP:
Last year at this time:
LIFE GOES ON:
Most cookbooks concentrate on COOKING. And why wouldn’t they? But come summer, that just doesn’t always work, does it? Cook a little soup — or something else — in the morning when it’s not yet too warm. Let it chill and try it cold later on when the sun is hot-hot and you don’t want to even light the grill, much less turn on the stove.