Warming, spicy and subtly sweet, this carrot soup with buttermilk & grape molasses is perfect for these first chilly fall days (and nights).
I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m quite certain that my mom’s favourite fall and winter dish to make and serve is soup. Hers have always been and still are always seasonal, colourful and filled with flavours; layers of flavours, which would linger on the tongue and stay with you long after the meal was finished. Some were chunky: with soft root vegetables and maybe chunks of fish or veal, in perfect proportion with the aromatic broth made with simple seasoning and fresh herbs. Others, velvety smooth, usually finished off with lots of freshly ground black pepper and possibly a trickle of the best, fruitiest olive oil. They were served hot, alongside torn thick dark bread and oftentimes, black wrinkled olives and crumbly feta cheese- two usual staples in the family table.
Carrot soup is one of her- and my- favourites; she makes different variations, depending on what’s available in our balcony and Friday’s farmers market. I have followed suit here (as with most kitchen and cooking matters) and every fall and winter, there’s always a number of versions I play with. From this spicy one with turmeric and cayenne, to this chunky chorizo and chickpea wonder– as long as there’s carrot, it’s most probably a soup I’d make and eat very very happily.
This one starts pretty straightforwardly, with crunchy carrots roasted with cumin, celery seeds, coriander, paprika and chilli flakes; sliced thickly, they are then tossed with dark magenta onions, garlic and more spices and cooked slowly on low heat until tender. After being whizzed into a smooth puree, comes the real party: a good, generous drizzle of acidic, delicious buttermilk and a couple drops of sweet, addictive petimezi (grape molasses). The latter is one of my favourite flavours – it brings me back to family summers in Greece and playing hide and seek under and by the vines. But that’s a whole other story, regardless of which your should definitely give it a try. I buy mine at Oliveology and, like all their products, it is exceptionally good; it adds depth and a very subtle smokiness to a number of dishes and little bites and is just perfect here, alongside the sourness of the buttermilk and the earthy, spiced carrot flesh.
Carrot soup with buttermilk & grape molasses
500 gr carrots
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium red onions, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly slices
3- 3 1/2 cups water
sea salt to taste
fresh coriander, roughly chopped
about 4 tablespoons grape molasses (petimezi)
1/2 cups buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 150ºC (130ºC FAN); place the carrots on a baking tray, sprinkle with half the spices and roast for about 15′, until just browned.
- Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
- Warm the olive oil in a medium-sized pan over medium heat; add the onions and cook for about 7′, until soft and golden. Add the garlic and spices and cook for another 3′. Add the carrots, toss well to combine and top with the water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to medium-low and cook until the carrots are soft, about 15′. Season to taste and remove from the heat. Blitz with a hand blender until smooth and divide into bowls.
- Top the bowls with fresh the fresh coriander, a good drizzle of buttermilk and a touch of molasses.
- Serve with additional buttermilk and molasses on the side and fat chunks of warm sourdough.