One of the first things that I cooked, about a year ago, was roasted carrot. Yes – at that time, the notion of sprinkling olive oil and seasoning on chopped carrots and then roasting them in an oven seemed the height of culinary capability. I’ll have to admit, though, that the end result was delicious: the carrots were soft on the inside, crispy on the outside and had soaked in the olive oil to perfection.
I love roasted vegetables on their own but over time, I’ve realized that incorporating them into soups, with a dash of butter or cream to add depth and richness, can create something even more magical. This recipe, for roasted carrot and pepper soup, is not only quick in the kitchen (I was out in fifteen minutes) but is also the perfect choice for a light dinner or as an appetizer.
The trick to getting a flavorful soup, I’ve realized, is seasoning the vegetables before roasting them. I make a sauce out of chilli garlic oil (crushed red chilli and cloves of garlic simmered in a quart of olive oil), pepper and various herbs, which I then toss the chopped vegetables in before baking them. Adding pepper gives the vegetables an extra punch that comes out wonderfully in the soup. After ten minutes in the oven, they’ve soaked up all the flavor in a way that no amount of sauteing or boiling can ever accomplish.
Roasted Carrot and Peppercorn Soup
3 medium-sized carrots, washed and peeled
1 radish, washed and peeled
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons chilli garlic oil/regular olive oil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp red chilli flakes
1 tsp finely ground peppercorns
1 tbsp fresh cream
Dice the carrots, radish, onion and smashed garlic cloves and set aside.
Mix the seasonings (oregano, thyme, red chilli flakes and ground pepper cons) with the oil so they’re well combined. If you’re using regular olive oil, you could add a glove of smashed garlic for a more robust flavour.
Toss the vegetables in the oil and when well-coated, spread them on a tray and bake them for about 15 minutes. I set the oven at 160 C, but if you want the veggies to be done quicker, you could up the temperature.
Give the roasted vegetables a couple of minutes to cool down and then tip them into a food processor (along with the residual oil). Add the cream and a pinch of salt and grind it till it’s a smooth puree.
Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan and when it’s hot, add the puree along with a cup of water. If you want an extra creamy soup, you could add a teaspoon of milk as well. Keep the heat on low, and the soup will start to bubble in a few minutes. Wait till the extra water has evaporated and the soup has thickened before taking it off the heat.
This soup is lovely served hot with warm bread and butter. For hotter evenings, it can even be chilled in the refrigerator and served with a light salad.