Saturday, March 15, 2014

Roasted carrot soup with Puy lentils

Spring is officially just around the corner; unofficially it’s been here since last week. It’s sunny and hot, the birds are chirping and the bugs are going crazy, Dutch tulips are blooming and are prettier than ever, and the Dutch are reveling in the warmth, wearing their flip-flops and t-shirts. I, on the other hand, am still wearing my boots and long-sleeved blouses.

The pain I told you about from the wisdom tooth extraction is still present, however it is slowly fading and I’m heading towards a full recovery. I still can’t quite chew from the left side of my mouth and the right side is getting a real work out these days, so I have been making soups and smoothies and foods that are easy to chew.

To avoid feeling like an old lady, eating just watered down soups and soft rice, I’m trying to cook appetizing and flavorful dishes that will perk me up and put a smile on my face. Food has that effect on me.
This roasted carrot soup with Puy lentils managed to do just that.

Carrots are usually overlooked in favor of other vegetables and rarely take center stage. They lie in the background, enhancing the flavor of other ingredients, and together with vegetables like onions and celery create the base for bolder flavors to stand on and shine.

In this soup, though, carrots are the protagonists and along with a dash of ground fennel seed and some olive oil, they are first roasted in the oven. Don’t think of roasting the carrots as an unnecessary step, it is absolutely worth it as they lightly caramelize, creating a deliciously sweet flavor base for the soup.

Then they simmer for a while together with some onions, garlic, celery, some spicy, peppery ginger and woody thyme, and at the end, after the soup is puréed, the little green pebbles that are the Puy lentils go in and give the soup texture.

This creamy, beautifully orange-colored soup, speckled with the green lentils was enough to make me forget about my pain and enjoy it to the fullest. Hope you enjoy it too.

Roasted Carrot Soup with Puy Lentils
Adapted from Dutch Delicious

Puy lentils or lentilles du Puy as they are called in French, are lentils from the volcanic region of Le Puy-en-Velay in south-central France and they are the only lentils in the world that are identified by area of cultivation. They are small, green-black lentils with a blue marbling that have a very rich flavor and a superior quality, and they hold their shape when cooked, retaining their firmness.

You can use beluga lentils instead of Puy, or even regular small brown lentils, just make sure that you don’t boil them for too long as they need to have a bite to add texture to the dish.

It goes without saying that the best accompaniment is a good loaf of bread; I made a no-knead loaf.

Yield: 6 servings

1½ kg carrots, peeled and sliced 2cm thick
1½ tsp ground fennel seeds
6 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 celery sticks, chopped
6cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Leaves from 4 fresh thyme sprigs, plus extra for garnishing
1½ liter vegetable stock
200 g Puy lentils, rinsed well
Freshly ground black pepper

Lemon, to serve

Special equipment: large baking tray, baking paper, grater, immersion or regular blender, colander

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Line a large baking tray with baking paper and add the sliced carrots. Sprinkle with the ground fennel seeds, drizzle with 3 Tbsp of the olive oil and season with salt and ground black pepper. Mix everything well with your hands and place the baking tray on the middle rack of the preheated oven.
Roast carrots for 30-35 minutes or until slightly softened and lightly caramelized.
Remove from the oven and keep in the baking tray until ready to add to the soup.

In the meantime, heat the remaining 3 Tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, add the onions and sauté them, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Add celery and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft.

Then add the grated ginger, the thyme, the vegetable stock, the roasted carrots and the juices accumulated in the baking tray, a little salt and pepper, and bring to the boil.

Put the lid on the pan, turn heat down to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced a little and the carrots have softened.

While the soup is simmering, prepare the lentils. In a medium-sized pan, add 1 liter of water and bring to the boil over high heat. Add the lentils and ¼ tsp salt and boil over medium heat for 15-20 minutes until tender yet still al dente. Drain them well in a colander.

Once the soup is ready, remove from the heat and then, if you’re using an immersion blender, blend the carrots in the pan until smooth and creamy. If you have a regular blender, transfer the carrots little by little to it and blend until you have a smooth and creamy soup. Return soup to the pan.

Add the cooked lentils to the soup and stir well. Check the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve hot, garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh thyme leaves.
Have some lemon at hand to squeeze over the soup; it benefits from a hit of acidity to counterbalance its sweetness and earthiness.



  2. Love roasted carrots, and I agree it's a step that cannot be skipped! And the lentils are beautiful in the soup.

  3. I love carrots for what they are and I think it's a shame that they are sometimes forgotten to be used as main ingredient. But almost everyone I know goes crazy about a carrot cake with chocolate ganache or a hearty carrot soup like that one. Long live the delicious carrots!

  4. Love the green lentils in the orange carrot soup!

  5. My beloved just returned from Amsterdam, visiting his 93 year old mother, and he arrived home to a vase of Tulips imported from Holland! This soup looks so good and cozy.

  6. I adore this exquisite foodie blog! My picky French hubby absolutely adored this soup! He kept asking for extra servings! Carrot puree and lentils is a winner combo! Not a big fan of fennel or anise so I used a tad of marjoram and plain lentils since it's hard to track those wonderful De Puy lentils around here. I did use your tips regarding the soup finishing - extra olive oil, thyme and lemon juice on top takes it to another level! Thanks!

    1. Hi there! Glad you and your husband enjoyed the soup!