This is a “silver lining” recipe that came out of a terrible experience. I started experimenting with carrots 24 years ago when an oncology nurse explained that the chemo my husband was receiving was actually toxic doses of Vitamin A. She compared it to consuming at least a five-pound bag of carrots a day.
If you do this, your face will hurt, you’ll grind down your molars into mule chompers, your skin will turn orange, and you will hate carrots by Day 5.
Of course, he didn’t grasp at the time that toxic doses of Vitamin A were only one part of the deadly cocktail. He just hung on the nurse’s words in the hope he could naturally help himself.
Pregnant and believing that my child would never know its father and I’d never be able to pay the mounting medical bills, I tried to come up with ways of making large doses of carrots enjoyable for a dying man who could barely tolerate his treatments. It does not make perfect logical sense but it seemed carrot soup every day between treatments could only help. I spent hours taking out my anger and grief, chopping like an axe murderer with tears flowing into the soup pot.
And yes, he is still alive, going on 23 years past his “zero chance of surviving five years” diagnosis.
Now, 24 years later, the recipe is still so popular in our family that my son wants me to write it down before I myself die of old age. In his mind it is just the comfort food his Mom made all the time, and not associated with cancer at all. And here I am still making it for his Dad – though at the time I started making it we both knew every bowl could be his last.
It’s like a magic spell. Every time I make it my life is a little better than the last time I made it, and absolutely better than the first time. Even though we are divorced for over ten years, I am still making him carrot soup – and still hoping this recipe helps him learn how to make it himself.
Equipment you will need:
Two large pots
Carrots: You knew that! Organic, either a 3- or a 5-lb. bag of full size carrots; peeled
Olive Oil: (Can mix with sesame oil for different flavor)
Scallions: One or two bunches, cleaned and chopped
Cauliflower: One or two heads; acts as a thickener and adds a unique flavor that is essential; roughly chopped
Celery: One bright green bunch, cleaned and chopped
Lemon Juice: Up to 1 cup
Bay Leaf: One
Ginger: Minced or chopped, fresh is best
Cumin: 1 or 2 tablespoons
Celery Seed: Dash
Lemongrass: Minced or chopped
Broth: Chicken, vegetable or tomato (or water); enough to fill the pot
Dill: Fresh is best
Roasted Red Peppers: Use a jar and/or add a carton of packaged roasted red pepper soup at the end (optional)
Green Chili Peppers: A little jar or can, chopped fine (optional)
Parmesan Cheese: (optional)
Noodles: To serve with soup (optional)
(Note what is not in this recipe: no cream, no salt, and no spinach!*)
- Put on music and an apron. Tie up or bandana back your hair and wash your hands.
- Cover the bottom of a soup pot with a thick layer of olive oil and turn on medium heat.
- Add garlic, scallions, cauliflower, and celery each in turn, coating and stirring.
- Sauté until browning and aromatic while you chop and pulverize carrots.
- Chop carrots into small enough pieces to add to the pulverizing machine of your choice if you have one. The Ninja blender is superb, the Oster chopper isn’t. It is perfectly fine to just chop the carrots by hand, but you will need a blender of some sort to get the final soup smooth.
- Add the carrots to the pot and stir to coat with the garlicky olive oil mixture.
- Add the lemon juice, bay leaf; and dashes of ginger, cumin, celery seed, and lemongrass and stir.
- Add broth up to a couple of inches below the top of the pot, turn the heat up high and stir until bubbling.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover once it settles. Stand by for a few minutes to make sure the pot doesn’t over boil the stove but the soup is simmering.
- Go away for at least 1 hour, or as many as 10. In the final hour, add roasted red peppers and chili peppers if you want.
- Turn off the heat and remove from the burner to cool.
- IMPORTANT: Do not put hot soup in the blender even if you are starving. Blending hot soup will create steam powerful enough to blow the lid off and adhere liquid to the ceiling forevermore. Have learned this lesson for you, have scars to prove it. Please let it cool for at least 30 minutes or go ahead and eat it chunky as is.
- Once cooled, take out the second soup pot and position it next to the blender. Ladle only enough to come up to half way in the blender and use a towel to cover the top of the blender and hold the lid down if it is still warm. Blend briefly to liquefy and pour in the second pot until you have emptied the first pot, via the blender, to the second pot.
- You should now have a pot of carrot soup and an empty pot. You can choose to add some roasted red pepper soup, or more broth or dill to the carrot soup and warm on low. Fill the pot you made soup in with clean water and a dash of olive oil and bring to a boil if you want to make noodles to pour the soup over (optional).
- While the soup is warming and the noodles are cooking, clean the blender and the counters. (*Chopping fresh spinach and putting it in the colander before you pour the noodles out of the pot and tossing both with olive oil is optional, too. Smile!)
- Top with a dollop of Parmesan cheese and dill.
Serves 10 easily, and up to 20 if you add noodles. Reheats well.
Jennifer Stanton, founder of Retail Advisory Services, established the Village at Robinson Farm farmers’ market and has helped attract many entrepreneurial restaurants and retailers to Charlotte. Every Wednesday she cooks a feast for musicians and in exchange they allow her to play the banjo with them.