Let's take a break from sweets to talk about the delicious soup I made last night. I call this one, "birthday party leftover carrot stick soup." The title might need some work, but it was my mom's brilliant suggestion for what to do with the two pounds of carrot sticks my husband so laboriously peeled and cut for our 5-year-old's birthday party Saturday. I have a weird relationship with carrot soup: I really like to eat it, but when I think about it, it doesn't always sound appealing. Though I have a recipe from a coworker in grad school, I thought maybe finding a new recipe might invigorate the carrot soup plan, and I was right! I scrolled around online, took inspiration from this roasted carrot soup recipe, and made my own roasted carrot lentil soup.
The soup is delicious! It is hearty and filling but not rich, and the lemon juice added at the end contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of the carrots. I used broth, not water, so I didn't need too much salt, but I did grind up a little sea salt as I roasted the carrots and onions, and I added a little more to the soup itself. I didn't have any fresh herbs, and rosemary can sometimes overwhelm, so I threw in a bay leaf and sprinkled in a little dried thyme. I ate a tiny bowl of it last night (the soup was finished just too late for dinner) but I'm looking forward to eating it tonight with some crusty bread.
This soup is quick and easy to make - less than an hour, start to finish. It uses up extra carrots, it's a filling and frugal meal, and it can be customized to your personal tastes and the contents of your pantry. Here's how I made it:
Roasted Carrot and Orange Lentil Soup
Makes about 6 cups (that's a guess).
2 pounds carrots, cleaned or peeled and cut into chunks or sticks
1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup dry orange lentils
1 quart plus 1 pint vegetable broth or chicken broth (water can be substituted but may not be as flavorful and definitely will require more salt)
fresh or dried herbs (I used one bay leaf and a few teaspoons of dried thyme)
juice of a lemon
Spread out the carrots and onions on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment (to make cleanup easier). Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Roast at 425F for about 25 minutes, until the carrots are fairly soft. Mine did not really start to get any color; the onions were just translucent. Remove from the oven and add to a soup pot along with the lentils. Stir in the other teaspoon of oil (which I suppose is optional, but my carrots were starting to look a little dry), and then add the broth. Bring it to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer. After about 20 minutes, add the herbs. Long about that time, I used a potato masher to mash the carrots slightly. I let it cook another 5-10 minutes just to make sure the lentils were cooked through. They basically dissolve, so it's a little hard to tell whether you're looking at carrots or lentils, but just use your best judgment.
Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaf. Use an immersion blender (or blender or food processor) to blend the soup as smooth or chunky as you want. I wanted mine a little smoother and thinner, so I added water, a few tablespoons at a time, blending between additions, until I had the consistency I wanted. Stir in the lemon juice, and then season to taste with salt and/or pepper. I had some hopes the kids would eat this, so I didn't use pepper at all. We'll see if that works. I gave Boy-o a bite last night and he pronounced it good, but that doesn't mean he'll actually eat a bowl of it.
I didn't have any in the house, but I'll bet this would be delicious with a little cream, creme fraiche, sour cream, or yogurt drizzled or spooned on top.
The soup also freezes beautifully. I like to cool it to room temp, then ladle it into quart-sized bags, seal them, and freeze them flat on a cookie sheet. (Later you can remove the cookie sheet!) The flat bags of soup are easier to store, and the quart bags are just the right size to defrost for a couple of hearty bowls. You can thaw it overnight in the fridge, or put the still-sealed ziploc in a bowl of warm water, or just cut away the plastic and pop the frozen sheet of soup into a medium pot to defrost on low.