Golden Carrot Soup with Pickled Raisins and Harissa

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We are already halfway through January and my brain is knee deep in February. Somehow, I knew this was exactly how it was going to go. Two short weeks into the year and I feel like so much has happened. I keep penciling things into the calendar, watching it all fill up so fast. It's overwhelming and invigorating all at once.

My mind toggles between the regimented mindset that answers to calendars, reminders and alarm clocks, the side of my brain that keeps pace with the modern world. Then there is the other half, the one that hopelessly wanders, wide-eyed and desperate to soak up all the magic in the present moment. It's the side of me that wants to read all the books and do all the things.  

I've always had this duality.  Most of my life I was a rule-follower- an academic, well-mannered young lady, a straight A student destined for a safe, stable lot in life. I talked often of becoming a lawyer and wanted nothing more than to fit.  Somewhere in college, it all went Pete Tong and I delved into my disco-loving, whiskey guzzling, hallucinogenic dark side. In that space, I was bold and fearless, a criminally reckless, devil-may-care spitfire. Which was fun, until it wasn't.

In the mildly mature calm of my early 30's (I'll be 33 next week, eep!), I struggle to reconcile these two natures. Maybe harness them in a more definitive way? Naturally I have begun the search for answers by obsessively self-administering  "Which side of the brain do you use most?" tests (that's normal, right?) and quite possibly driving myself halfway into crazy town, fearing the worst- the early onset of left brain-ness or, complete and total rational thinking. That, my friends, is crazy talk.  

I picked up the carrots for this soup with the right-side of my brain the other day. I plucked the golden bunch with the daydreaming part of my being that wanders through farmer's markets imagining myself barefoot in a farmhouse somewhere in the Spanish countryside where my only job would be to cook and tend a massive garden, harvesting the day's ingredients into a large woven basket. I'd chop and stir while the hem of my indigo skirt skimmed the dirt floor, my gypsy bangles jingling the meditative rhythm to which I would cook the day's meal. Yep, that's where I went when I saw these beauties. 

This soup is warmth in a bowl punched up with spices and ginger and topped with pickled raisins that have a sweet and acidic dual nature. Harissa adds heat to warm your chilly winter bones while a dollop of garlicky yogurt tempers the heat into comforting submission. Here's to having the best of both worlds.

Golden Carrot Soup with Pickled Raisins & Harissa 

You can certainly substitute regular carrots in place of the golden carrots if you can't find any. Look for harissa at International markets. I hit up the Halal Market in Charlotte. You can also make your own.  This green version would be an ace variation too.  

For the pickled raisins:

For the soup:

  • 2 lbs. golden carrots (or regular carrots), chopped 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ghee
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed 
  • 1/2 inch nub of ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 4 cups vegetable stock 
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt 
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed 
  • pinch salt 
  • Harissa 
  • Green onions, sliced

1. Make the pickled raisins and set aside. You can do this a day in advance if you like.  

2. In a large soup pot, heat oil and ghee over medium heat. Add carrots, onions, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin and salt, stirring until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about 15 minutes.  Pour in vegetable stock and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. 

3. To blend the soup, pour into blender (I freaking love my Vita-Mix) or use an immersion blender to puree. For an extra smooth soup, use a chinois or fine mesh strainer to further strain the soup and remove the pulpy fibers.  Mix yogurt, garlic and salt together in a separate bowl.

4. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with a dollop of yogurt and a swab of harissa paste. Top with pickled raisins and a sprinkling of green onions.