I don’t know about you guys, but, for me, the days that follow Thanksgiving are, no contest, the least inspired days, cooking-wise, all year long. It’s not that there’s a lack of food—my parents’ fridge is no doubt still full, today on Tuesday, with bowls and bowls of leftovers from Thursday’s spread, and that meal was just one of the many we took part in all weekend. It’s not that there’s a lack of ideas—I checked into my Google Reader sometime Sunday and tucked away recipes for pumpkin risotto and oaty shortbread and red lentils and spinach in masala sauce.
It’s just that, listen, we are full.
Maybe you feel the same way? Between my parents’ place and Tim’s relatives’ house and a favorite restaurant and a new favorite snack (full or not, I’ll take an entire case of those, thankyouverymuch), we ate our weight in holiday meals, and by Sunday night, when we returned to our kitchen, where the refrigerator was the polar opposite of where we’d been, the bearer of a paltry bag of carrots, eggs, butter and one-and-a-half kombuchas from last week, it was all we could do to drink a glass of water and go to sleep.
Coming home from a long weekend like this last one means many things—exhaustion, unpacking, laundry and looming work—but also, the minute we pulled up to our driveway, it means mail. After our few days away, the mailbox we share with neighbors was, of course, stuffed, holding junkmail, our Christmas cards (hooray! and, by the way, if you haven’t ordered yours yet, my friend Sarah’s doing a $75 Minted giveaway!) and, best of all, this month’s issue of Bon Appetit.
So yesterday morning, amidst cleaning and ebay-selling and conference-calling and work, I flipped through the magazine in case, by some miracle, a lunch could be made with what we had on hand. Enter this roasted carrot onion soup with dukkah spice.
I ended up replacing a pound of the carrots with onion, the fennel seeds with anise and the pistachios with hazelnuts (there was exactly 1/2 cup of hazelnuts in the pantry! would you believe it!) to make it work, but, all in all, this beautiful and spice-filled soup is a perfect testament to making do with what one has—and, made of the ever-affordable carrots and onions, topped with a unique spiced mixture unlike anything I’ve ever tried, combined with the container of vegetable broth I’ve been freezing since my last Tamar-Adler-vegetable-scraps-boiling a few weeks back, this recipe is also a testament to the fact that while some of the best meals we enjoy are the Thanksgiving feasts—others are the simplest, just a bowl of soup and a spoon.
Roasted Carrot Onion Soup with Dukkah Spice
Services four to six
I’ve made carrot soup before, right after my mom bought me my first Le Creuset, but this version, topped with a nutty spice blend, is an entirely different taste experience. When you stir the finely chopped hazelnuts and spices through each bowl, the entire recipe takes on new life.
Note, also, that the original recipe also suggested adding a dollop of yogurt to each bowl (but, as you can imagine, that wasn’t something we had on hand yesterday).
1/2 cup hazelnuts
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more, to taste)
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into one-inch pieces
1 pound onions, peeled and cut into one-inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 quart of vegetable broth
1. MAKE DUKKAH SPICE BLEND.
In a large skillet over medium-low heat, toast hazelnuts until fragrant, around five minutes. Let them cool and rub handfuls between your palms, letting the skins fall to the skillet. Separate the toasted, mostly skinned nuts to a plate and set aside. Dump out the skins in the trash and fill the skillet with the sesame seeds, coriander, cumin, anise seeds and black peppercorns. Toast for about one or two minutes, stirring often, until very fragrant. Set aside onto same plate with nuts. Let cool. Transfer mixture to food processor, adding one teaspoon salt. Coarsely grind. (Note: this spice mixture may be made up to a week ahead of time and kept, airtight, at room temperature.)
2. ROAST VEGETABLES.
Preheat oven to 375F. Place carrots and onions on rimmed baking sheet, and toss with melted butter, adding a little salt (and pepper, if desired) all over. Roast until vegetables are tender and just beginning to turn golden, about 45 minutes. Let them cool.
3. PURÉE VEGETABLES.
Transfer carrots and onions to a blender, and add the quart of broth. (Don’t use a food processor here. Use a blender or a Vitamix. If you do use a food processor, the broth will spill out through the middle and out onto the counter and the floor and all over your hands, just trust me.) Blend until very smooth, about two or three minutes.
4. ASSEMBLE SOUP.
Pour the mixture into a stockpot over medium heat, stirring occasionally. You may add water to reach the consistency you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper, but keep in mind the dukkah spice mixture has salt in it, as well.
Divide soup among bowls and top with dukkah spices to taste.