Umami Carrot Soup with Mint
By Chef Jerry Traunfeld
- 2 medium Leeks (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Dried Whole Coriander Seeds
- 3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 1 pound Organic Carrots peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 1/2 cup Dry White Wine
- 2 teaspoon Organic Ginger finely chopped
- 3 cups Carrot Juice
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2 cups Water
- 1 bunch Spearmint
- 2 teaspoon Organic Lemon juice freshly squeezed (add more if needed)
- Mint Leaves use tiny leaves or slice leaves thinly
- Cut off and discard the tops of the leeks at the point where they turn from light to dark green.
- Split them lengthwise in half, keeping the roots attached so that the layers will not fall apart, and wash thoroughly.
- Thinly slice the leeks into half circles, discarding the roots.
- Toasting Coriander
- Put the coriander seeds in a small, dry skillet and place it over medium heat.
- Shake the pan constantly until the leeks begin to darken in color and smell wonderfully fragrant and toasty; be careful not to overcook.
- Pour them out onto a paper towel to stop the cooking.
- Using the towel as a funnel, transfer them to a spice mill and grind very fine.
- If you don't have a spice mill, use a mini processor or blender.
- Melt the butter in a medium (3-quart) heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the leeks and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the carrots, wine, and ginger.
- Cook uncovered until all the liquid has boiled away, about 15 minutes, then continue to cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
- Don't rush this step, for it allows the natural sugars to slowly caramelize.
- As the vegetables cook, keep scraping the bottom of the pan with the spoon to gather up any brown bits.
- Add the carrot juice, coriander, and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and gently simmer over low heat until the carrots are very tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Mint Tea
- Meanwhile bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan.
- Submerge the mint in the water, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let steep for about 20 minutes.
- Strain the tea, squeezing all the liquid out of the leaves.
- Finishing the Soup
- Put half of the soup in the container of an electric blender (you can use a food processor instead, but the soup will not be as smooth).
- Hold the lid down with a dry towel and turn the blender on at low speed so that the soup doesn't splash up, then gradually increase the speed to high.
- Add half of the mint tea.
- Blend the soup until it is creamy and very smooth.
- Pour the pureed soup into a second saucepan and repeat with the remaining soup and tea.
- When all the soup is pureed, add the lemon juice and gently reheat.
- Taste and add additional salt or lemon juice if needed.
- Ladle the soup into warmed small bowls or demitasse cups.
- Garnish with mint leaves.
- This is a Japanese concept that food has umami when it's at its peak of perfection - a sublime, height of its season, handled with respect, and simply presented. This minted carrot soup evolved from a workshop and luncheon organized by food expert, consultant, and umami enthusiast Jon Rowley. It has a very concentrated flavor, and should be served in small bowls or cups to begin a meal. In the summertime it's delicious served chilled.