Umami Carrot Soup with Mint
Umami Carrot Soup with Mint
Chef Jerry Traunfeld
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.
2 Belgian Style 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 Mint for tea and garnish
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.
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.
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.
*If you will be thinly slicing the mint leaves, do this just before serving the soup to prevent the leaves from oxidizing and marring the aroma and flavor of this well-made soup.