Our favorite two

You are not going to believe me, but here goes:

We are still pulling carrots I planted on June 24th, almost seven months ago. I know! I wouldn't believe it myself, except that I wrote down the date in my gardening notebook, and that notebook does not lie. I wrote out the varieties—Purple Haze and Danvers and Atomic Red—and drew a little diagram to show which kind I'd planted in each row.

Then I completely ignored them—forgot to thin them, even—until October, when Alex and I pulled the plastic greenhouse cover over the garden and shut the door. Apparently, they liked this treatment just fine, because when I went foraging after Christmas to see what I might find for a chilly afternoon lunch, I found them stout and sturdy, still a head full of green on top and bright oranges, reds, and purples popping up from down below.

A few of them were carried off by lucky rodents—a mouse maybe, or more likely a vole—but for the most part, we've been getting a full harvest from every row. Some are small, little more than pinky-sized, but others are as round as silver dollars, as long and straight as home-dipped candles.

Mostly, we've been eating them fresh—washed and trimmed and dipped into a bowl of homemade blue cheese dressing or bean dip. But at my mother's suggestion we've also been cooking them down into smooth, velvety soups.

Here are our favorite two—perfect for February and March, for seeing us through.


This recipe is adapted from The Black Dog Cookbook: Summer on the Vineyard by Joe Hall. I like it because it is quick, easy, delicious, and beautiful. The recipe calls for a lot of ginger—don't add any extra (the soup will get bitter), but don't skimp, either. The ginger adds a lovely bright taste.

1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 cups chopped carrots
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground coriander
sliced scallions or chives, for garnish

Warm up the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onion and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onion starts to get tender.

Add all the remaining ingredients except for the scallions and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and continue cooking, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, or until the carrots are soft.

Puree the soup and serve hot with a sprinkle of scallions on top.


This recipe is adapted from one my mother found in a Moroccan cookbook from Williams Sonoma. The original name was Chorba b'khisou bil kseksou, or Carrot Soup with Spices. It has a stunning orange color and a lovely texture.

2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, peeled and grated
1 heaping pound carrots, washed, peeled, and grated
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
5 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup dry couscous
2 teaspoons lemon juice
parsley, for garnish

Warm up the butter over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes, then add the grated carrots, garlic, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, paprika, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Cook for a few seconds, then add the chicken stock.

Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the couscous, stir until boiling, then cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer gently for another 20 minutes.

Add the lemon juice and serve hot, topped with a little chopped parsley.


Gary said...


Welcome home, we missed you terribly these last couple weeks! How was Jamaica, hot & sticky? Which is to say the complete opposite of what we're having..

Gary said...

I meant to say "of what we've been having"....it's been cold, windy & miserable. But it's getting lighter earlier in the mornings, and later in the evenings, so we're getting there.
Both of your carrot soups sound yummy, just what's needed on a cold winter's night!

Anonymous said...

yum! it has been pretty terrible weather here in Portland...this soup sounds like the perfect cure for frozen hands and feet after a trip to dog beach with the fish monster. xoxoxo anna (and fisher, who is next to my desk, dreaming about rabbits, tennis balls, and his loving parents as i write this)

Patty said...

I don't think you would need to peel the carrots, if they are the ones in the picture. We have not had much luck with growing them in Georgia, although we dutifully plant over and over. And the voles (or something) harvested our sweet potatoes last fall! I used to make a carrot soup, which I loved the first few bites of, but couldn't eat a whole bowl. Too rich? Of course, these might not have that characteristic. Thanks.

Elspeth said...

Thanks Gary! Jamaica was wonderful—yes hot, 85, sunny, and all in all just what we needed. We got to see a lot of friends who come to the Cape to work in the summer so that was a treat, too.

Now it's back to cold rain...oh well! As you said, the days are definitely getting longer and I think it's just about time to put some compost in the greenhouse, clean out a few rows, and get some spring crops going. Summer, here we come!

Anna, I hear you on the weather. Alex went for a run this morning in rain pants and a rain jacket and came back only a mile in. "Too disgusting" was his comment. Hopefully soup will help!

And Patty,

You're right. I don't usually peel carrots like the ones in the photo—although Alex likes them better peeled. I think the skin is the sweetest part! I don't find either of these soups too rich, but I know what you mean. The Moroccan one is especially nice because there's a lot of broth and the couscous breaks up the texture. Let me know what you think if you give it a try.

Good to be back, and thank you all as always for being here!



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