Apart from the occasional carrot cake or carrot salad I rarely have opportunity to make the carrot the star of the show. Carrots tend to make an appearance in the vegetable box but this time, instead of stored carrots from last year I had the first spring carrots. Thin and still slightly muddy with great green fronds, these carrots couldn't simply be added to a stew.
I had never made a cold soup before; I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it. Was it going to feel like a soup that had been left in the bowl too long or was it going to be more like a vegetable smoothie? What if there were all sorts of unwanted lumpy bits and it looked like wallpaper paste? There was much ooh-ing and aah-ing as I tried to work out how best to juice a carrot. It turns out all the deliberation was worth it, carrot gazpacho is in a soup league of its own.
You will need (for two):
500g carrots, peeled and chopped
1/4 red pepper, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
1 garlic clove
1/4 cucumber, peeled and chopped
Few sprigs coriander, chopped
2-3 tbsp orange juice
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
White Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Add to a blender the carrots, pepper, spring onions, garlic, cucumber and coriander and blend until you have a paste. This took much persuasion and perseverance but the blender did finally manage it. The smaller you can chop the vegetables before they go in the better. Add the orange juice and blend again.
Now comes the stupendously satisfying part; pass the mixture through a muslin into a bowl. I managed to do this in four batches with much squeezing, squashing and squishing. The dry parts that are left went into the compost. Add to the carroty liqueur: a drizzle of olive oil, a dash of vinegar and some salt and pepper. Give it one final blend to make sure it's nicely incorporated.
I was astounded at the intensity of flavour from this soup. The carrots not only gave a fantastic colour but their subtle sweetness wasn't lost or overshadowed by anything else. There was a faint whiff of onion and garlic; a nice watery, clean flavour from the cucumber and pepper and then the delicate, slightly floral taste of the coriander.It's not really something you can fill up on; I would advise eating it before something much more substantial but it's absolutely worth giving a try. Making something this fresh allows you to appreciate the elegant flavours that might otherwise be lost in cooking. There's a gazpacho for all seasons; carrot, tomato or beetroot, but only time will tell if this works with cabbage.