Orange Carrots (Chef Jason Hammel, Lula Cafe, Chicago)
“So often when I’m asked to give my farmers market finds, I tend toward quirky ingredients that only chefs would love. But today at the Green City Market, I saw some really nice, huge and fat — maybe even overgrown — plain orange carrots and thought to myself, ‘What can we make with those homely things?’”
Hammel’s resulting vegan soup yields what he calls “an incredibly rich and silky (almost creamy) texture.” He says, “If the puree and reduction are made ahead, this is a soup you can do in just 10 to 15 minutes on a hot summer day. Store-bought carrot juice could work in a pinch, but nothing makes up for the fresh.” The soup freezes well, so save it for a taste of summer’s best once the weather turns.
Chilled Carrot Soup
You’ll need a high-speed blender and a juicer to make this soup. Garnishes could be any fresh herbs or black lime zest, cilantro, pistachio oil and pistachios, or chilled shrimp marinated in lime juice.
1 shallot, diced
1 clove garlic
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
5 teaspoons chamomile tea
3 2/3 cups sherry, divided
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 cup cooking sherry
1/8 cup sugar
3 cups carrot juice
1 1/8 teaspoons salt
To make the carrot puree, combine the shallot with the garlic and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sweat the vegetables until tender and colorless, about 5 minutes. Add the peeled and chopped carrots, coriander, chamomile tea and 2/3 cup sherry, with just enough vegetable stock to cover.
Cook until very tender, then add sherry vinegar. Pass the mix through a fine-mesh chinois.
For the sherry reduction, combine the remaining 3 cups of quality sherry and the cooking sherry in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce to about 1/4 cup. Stir in the sugar.
To make the soup, combine the puree, sherry reduction and carrot juice with the remaining olive oil and the salt. Chill and serve with your choice of garnish.