How to make the perfect carrot and coriander soup – recipe

It's time for this store cupboard favorite to make a comeback – but which recipe works best?

Don't laugh, but there was a point in my life when carrot and coriander soup seemed the pinnacle of culinary sophistication, the rustic cardboard offering a glimpse into a world of possibilities beyond chunky vegetable soup with a sprig of curly parsley for garnish. . Smitten, I ate the food almost every lunchtime for months on end, and then, as tends to happen with such obsessions, I did it the same way I do Archers and lemonade: suddenly and decisively.

Two decades later, though, I'm falling in love again — with carrot and coriander soup. Even given the rapid development of my taste buds in the ensuing years, it's still an interesting flavor combination: the sweetness of the vegetables and the flavors of the spices, with a simplicity that would, in an era when even Cup A Soup came in 15 different dishes. varieties, almost odd. But these days, I prefer making lunches, rather than microwaving them. But what's the best way to recreate the experience?

The more, the better – soups with a higher carrot-to-liquid ratio proudly contain carrots, not just plant-based and sweet. Since carrots are nearly 90% water, however, it pays little to get the best results. The late chef John Tovey, a familiar face to television audiences in the 1970s and 80s and avid soup aficionado, made them sweat under a greaseproof paper cartouche in the 1974 Good Cook's Guide, which contains the first mention of carrot and coriander soup. . Discover. I can sense you're all skipping this tip impatiently, but trust me, it's the difference between a great soup and a really good soup.

The New Covent Garden Soup Co.'s version, meanwhile, finishes with grated raw carrots, which I don't recall being an original feature, but works well in thinner soups, though, considering mine would be thick with carrot goodness, I think. no need for extra fiber: there's something so comforting about thick, creamy pottage on those dark winter days.

The soup, however, definitely involves chopped fresh coriander, so I was surprised to find Tovey and Nigel Slater's recipe uses the seeds, while Riverford's Guy Singh-Watson purees a small batch, and gardener and herb specialist Jekka McVicar puts the root alone into his soup. To my surprise, I prefer the seeds; the slightly bitter citrus notes they lend are more complex, and therefore more interesting, though, unless you have a particularly powerful blender, it's easier to grind those seeds into a powder first, rather than trying to chase everything around in a saucepan. , as Tovey recommended.

You could, of course, just sprinkle some chopped leaves on top for emphasis, but I'd make it a vibrant green puree, which not only looks dramatic, but also packs a lot more flavor.

Aromatics and other seasonings

Orange juice, you say? Jekka McVicar carrot and coriander soup.

Orange juice, you say? Jekka McVicar carrot and coriander soup.

In fact, Slater's recipe bills as a spiced carrot soup, and he adds cumin and chili as well, while New Covent Garden suggests a sprinkling of nutmeg, which is a great idea in a chowder, though I'd stick with the heavily coriander-focused version.

Everyone starts their soup with onions; I went for the red kind, to support the carrot's sweetness, but yellow is also acceptable, while the garlic adds the desired sharpness.


Like many vegetable soups, most recipes offer a choice of chicken or vegetable stock, the former, for meat eaters, offers a more neutral base than many commercial vegetable versions, which have a strong, dry herb flavor. Watson water works well if you don't have either, but stock will give it a deeper savory flavor.

Tovey, apparently characteristically, also added a dash of sherry to the pan; it's a great 1970s touch but, while never falling out of favor, I don't think it's really necessary for a good result. Also, it's the milk she adds along with the broth, which, like New Covent Garden Soup Co's single creaminess, only serves to dilute the carrot flavor. If you want a richer result, by all means stir in a little cream at the end.

Again, I've kept my recipe as thin as possible, but you may want to make the soup with potatoes (Singh-Watson) or Slater's red lentils (an ingredient that goes especially well with carrots, though this may just be because. The same goes for freshly squeezed orange juice. McVicar into her soup after mixing with Jekka's Herb Cookbook, another clever pairing, though very sweet, is better served in small elegant portions).

Slater finished the soup with roasted cumin seeds, olive oil, and greens, Tovey topped it with chopped parsley and served croutons on the side, and Singh-Watson provided a whole list of garnish suggestions that, in addition to a few of the above, included baking. almonds, orange blossom water, walnuts, hazelnut and sesame oil and “a heaped teaspoon of Moroccan spices, such as cumin and cumin with a dash of hot chili”. If you're short on time, or prefer to use that time otherwise (i.e., eating soup), you can easily sprinkle some fresh chopped cilantro on top. My bright green cilantro puree wasn't just for show, however — dissolved in oil, the herb's taste was richer, and more intense, than my teenage self could ever dream of.

Perfect carrot and coriander soup

  • Preparation 10 min
  • Cook 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Serving 4
  • 50g butter, or 50ml oil
  • 1 shallot (red for preference), peeled and finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, finely ground
  • 750 gr carrots, thinly sliced
  • 500 ml of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 50g fresh coriander
  • 100 ml of neutral oil
  • Splash of lime or lemon juice

Cut a circle of waxed paper the same diameter as the large saucepan.

Place the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat and, when hot, add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and starting to take color -- but be careful not to brown.

Add the garlic and coriander seeds, fry, stirring, for about one more minute, then add the carrots and flip to coat them in the hot fat.

Dampen one side of the greaseproof paper, place the damp side over the vegetables, then cover the pot, reduce heat and let it sweat for 30 minutes.

Remove lid and paper and pour in broth – need to cover vegetables.

Bring to a boil, then let it bubble gently for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, grind coriander, neutral oil, and orange juice until puree, then season to taste

Blitz the soup into a puree (I use a stick blender), then dilute with a little water, if needed.

Check for seasoning, and serve garnished with coriander puree or fresh chopped cilantro, if you wish.

Is carrot and coriander soup a taste of the past for you, or a never-lost one in your household? Does anyone know if it was indeed John Tovey's creation, or even older than him? And what other soup classics will be revived this winter?

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