Carrot velouté with ginger, orange and orange blossom extract

About a year ago, I had an excellent carrot soup at a cute little tea salon and antique shop called Mamie Gâteaux in the 6th arrondissement in Paris. It was really delicious and I promised myself that I would make carrot soup at home. Well, it took a while but finally, this weekend, I suddenly had the urge to make carrot soup and to mix it with ginger, orange and orange blossom extract… basically, create sunshine in a bowl to brighten up this grey October weekend.

I love the taste of orange and orange blossom in desserts, especially mixed with almonds. Well, now I know that it’s excellent with carrots as well! I have to say I’m very happy with the result. You can taste the carrots, the ginger, the orange… a delicate mix of sweet and savory tastes that really go well together. I thought the soup would need a creamy touch at the end, like coconut milk, but not at all. In France, I discovered that carrots are not only orange but they can be white as well. I first met with them at my friend’s house. I was invited to their home for lunch and her husband made a delicious creamy white carrot soup, that I still remember for it’s delicate, slightly sweet and creamy taste. White carrots or parsnips, “panais” in French, are a bit softer in texture than orange ones, so I decided to mix them into the soup. And they really gave a creamy touch to final texture.

For the soup (serves 6-8 people)
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 large leak
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 kg of carrots (just orange or a mix of white and orange – I used 2 parsnips and 7 orange carrots)
1 turnip
1 liter of water
2 cloves of garlic
freshly grated orange peel from 1 orange
1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
Juice of 1/2 an orange
1 teaspoon of orange blossom extract
Salt to taste

Finely chop the onion while heating up the olive oil in a large pot (I use the famous French cast irons pots from Le Creuset, I just love them. They’re beautiful, can be used on the stove or in the oven and they last a life time.). Chop the leak in the form of wheels and add it to the onions and olive oil. Be careful not to increase the heat too much and stir often to avoid burning. Chop the carrots and the turnip and add everything to the pot. You don’t need to chop the vegetables in perfect, same size pieces as you’ll blend everything at the end into a velouté.

Add the water, about 1 liter, to cover the vegetable mixture well. Add salt to taste (I prefer to add less in the beginning and then correct the salt level, if needed, towards the end of the cooking process). Let cook in the covered pot for about 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender.

When the vegetables are cooked, transfer the soup into a blender, add the garlic, grated orange peel and ginger and blend until smooth (depending on the size of your blender, you might have to do this step twice). You can also use a smaller, hand blender and blend directly in the pot, but it has to be very strong to get a perfect, creamy texture.

Once the soup is completely blended, transfer it back to the original pot, add the juice of half an orange and the orange blossom extract. The latter is not mandatory but it adds a special note, a bit of a French touch! Add salt, if needed but be careful not to exaggerate because the soup should have a delicately sweet taste, well balanced with the salt, because of the sweet carrots and the orange. Transfer the soup into bowls and garnish with a small pinch of freshly created orange peel and ginger. And there you have it, sunshine in a bowl :-)!

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