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: Vegetables|Soups|Lentils|Tarts|Soup

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Comments (10) Questions (0)


4 months ago Marie

I think the cinnamon is overpowering. I tried this because of the cardamom and then I couldn’t taste it. I like the idea of adding the red lentils.


4 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Marie, thank you for pointing this out. I'll edit the recipe, but with some caveats. I should have realized that some cinnamon sticks are much more potent than others, depending on the variety and size. The ones I had when I posted this must have been rather weak. Also, cardamom differs greatly too in its power. I often find cardamom overwhelming - it's a "loud" flavor to me, but that may have to do with the type/freshness of the cardamom I use. (I get it at the Indian grocery store. Their spices all seem a lot bolder than those I buy elsewhere.) ;o)
I included a note about that in the instructions, encouraging you to test it after the soup had cooked a while. ;o)


almost 3 years ago LDeuben

The recipe doesn't say how much onion! Otherwise, it's a wonderful combination of spices and we thoroughly enjoyed it (even trying to be all healthy and substituting olive oil for ghee, and turnip for potato).


almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks so much, especially for letting me know about the edit that's necessary. I'm glad you liked this. I really like your substitutions, especially of using a turnip! I plan to try that soon. I can see how its slightly spicy notes would be magical in this. Thanks again! ;o)


over 4 years ago wssmom

Thanks for including the nut substitutions as my son has nut allergies!


over 4 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

This sounds absolutely delicious! Love the apple and carrot thing. I have never made vegetable stock (!! ? !!) would you post that as well?


over 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks! Vegetable stock (I never make it the same way twice): In this case, I scrubbed the carrots for the soup well and put all the peels and tips/end pieces into a pot with two quarts of water and the first layer of onion (not great texture but fine for flavor) and the end piece that isn't the root end (can't remember what they call it), the tops of three large leeks (washed well, leftover from another meal, saved for this), a couple of gnarly joints from celery stalks (the place near the top that doesn't chop nicely), two bay leaves, and about a dozen parsley stems. Brought it to a boil then simmered (a hard, somewhat rumbling simmer just short of a boil) for 45 minutes and not a minute more, then drained immediately. You do that because the plant cells degrade and then absorb the stock. Yes, some people would frown or scoff and call it garbage or compost stock, but it turned out positively delicious and was perfect for this soup. ;o)


over 4 years ago SallyCan

Sounds good to me - let 'em scoff!


over 4 years ago nannydeb

Mmm, so many flavors! I can't wait to try it!


over 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks, I hope you do! Please note that I added some more instructions about the amount of cardamom to use. I, for one, find cardamom to be incredibly tricky. It's easy to overdo it, and then not reversible if that happens. ;o)