Creamy (but Dairy-Free) Cardamom Carrot Soup

By • February 2, 2011 10 Comments

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Author Notes: Here’s a soup you can easily adapt for dinner parties to which people with differing eating preferences have been invited. You can easily make it vegan by substituting coconut oil for the ghee. And you can turn it into a “main dish” soup simply by adding red lentils. It’s very creamy, without the addition of any dairy products whatsoever, thanks to a bit of potato which thickens it nicely, and a good dollop of almond butter stirred in at the end to give it a luxurious consistency. You can use chicken stock if you prefer, but I find that a well-flavored homemade vegetable stock, which is so easy to make, is better. (If making some for this soup, include extra carrots and a couple of bay leaves.) I’ve taken a page out of thirshfeld’s book, by recommending that you allow the soup to sit for a while before proceeding with the final steps. (Thanks, Mr H, for the great tip!) Please remember that cardamom can be a bit tricky. Freshly ground, its flavor can be overwhelming. And the coarser the grind, the more potent the taste. Also, if you add too much, you’ve got a problem, given the spice’s assertiveness, so start with a small amount and only add more, after tasting it, if you think it’s absolutely necessary. Enjoy!!

Serves 4 - 6

  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ghee, divided
  • 1 cup peeled and diced red or white potato
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 small, or 1/2 large cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 ½ tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • ¼ - ½ teaspoon freshly ground cardamom (See note below.)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 heaping teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 5 cups vegetable broth (or good homemade chicken broth, if not making it vegan)
  • 2 ½ pounds carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into ½ inch slices
  • 2/3 cup masoor dal or red lentils (optional)
  • 1 small Granny Smith or other very tart apple, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds
  • Black pepper or pink peppercorns, to taste
  • Salt
  1. Gently sauté the onion in the ghee with a pinch of salt in a heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the potato, cinnamon stick and bay leaves and stir well. When the onion begins to soften, add the ginger, garlic and ground spices and continue to cook for another minute.
  2. Add two cups of stock and simmer for about five minutes. Add another two cups of stock, the carrots, and the fresh thyme. If you are using dal, add it, along with 1 1/3 cups of water.
  3. Simmer until the carrots are just tender, adding more stock if the mixture seems to be drying out. (This is more likely to happen if you are using dal.)
  4. Add the apple dice, stir in the almond butter, and check for salt and correct, if necessary.
  5. Cover the pot and allow it to sit for at least one hour off the heat. Check for salt, and to see if there is enough cardamom, and add more if necessary. (But see the note below in Step 13, please.)
  6. Gently warm the ghee and stir into the chopped almonds.
  7. Remove the bay leaves and the cinnamon stick. Puree the soup in a blender, adding more stock or water if necessary to achieve the desired consistency.
  8. Check for salt and correct. Add ground black pepper or pink peppercorns to taste.
  9. Return the soup to the pot and heat until very warm.
  10. Serve each bowl topped with a small spoonful of ghee-coated almonds.
  11. Enjoy!!
  12. N.B. If nut allergies are a problem, the almond butter and chopped almonds can be omitted Stir in some full fat Greek yogurt or creme fraiche instead, and top with a dollop of yogurt to which a touch of salt and some finely chopped cilantro and a tiny bit of grated lemon zest has been added.
  13. Also, about the amount of cardamom to use . . . . there is a huge variation in the punch that cardamom packs, depending on how recently it's been ground, and how fresh the pods are, and how coarsely or finely the seed are crushed or ground. It's easy to overdo cardamom, especially in a soup like this. Use much less if you have just ground or crushed the seeds. I have you test it after letting it sit for an hour. Remember, though, that pureeing the carrots will reduce the brilliance of the cardamom you taste in the broth. But go easy, please, to avoid having the cardamom overwhelm the other flavors. ;o)

More Great Recipes: Soups|Vegetables|Lentils

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