Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends.
There are certain cooking basics that, once you master them, are gifts that keep on giving. Knowing how to make soup is one of those. The possibilities are endless once you get a handle on any variation of this formula: Sauté onions and/or garlic in spices and fat, add the central ingredient and bring it to a boil with stock and/or water, plus any aromatic ingredients, then reduce to a simmer to let the flavors meld. This can be followed by equally riffable steps like straining or pureeing for texture.
This soup captures the savory-sweet essence of roasted carrots, combined with sautéed onions and spiked with curry powder. Sautéing the onions while the carrots roast is an efficient way to gradually draw out sweetness from the onions without adding to the overall cook time, which is mostly hands-off anyway. Though you could use chicken stock if you’re not a vegetarian, I strongly prefer vegetable stock for this and most vegetable soups as it keeps the focus on the main ingredients, rather than gaining richness from a meat base. You’ll also add some water, between 1 and 2 cups depending on the level of thickness you prefer. This can be easily adjusted after blending if necessary, by adding in 1/4 cup of water at a time until the soup reaches your desired consistency.
Once the carrots join the pot with the other soup ingredients, you’re one puree away from a nutritious weeknight dinner. Truly, the hardest part is resisting the urge to pick the roasted carrots off the sheet pan for snacking.
To really make this shine, make sure your curry powder isn’t more than a few months old. As with all dried spices, if it’s past its prime, the flavors will be more muted and less pleasant. (I’ve often heard that a good rule of thumb is that if you can’t remember when you purchased a spice, it’s time to switch it out.) It seems like a pain to frequently replace unfinished seasonings, but it will make a difference in your dishes—especially here.
The curry powder is key for adding depth of flavor and a kick of spice to the carrots, which will have significantly amped-up sweetness from the high-temperature roast. The ginger adds its own kick too, and be sure to season with plenty of salt and pepper to further balance out the sweetness. That’s also why the soup is served with lemon wedges to squeeze on top, for a fresh, zingy note.
The wine should serve a similar purpose, providing supportive brightness without overpowering. I went with a white wine, a Chenin Blanc from France’s Loire Valley. The Domaine de la Petite Roche Chenin Blanc Anjou 2019 offers just the type of citrus accents I was seeking, balanced by notes of orchard fruit so that its flavor profile isn't too assertive, letting the carrots and curry in the soup have the much-deserved spotlight.
Roasted Carrot-Curry Soup
Pair with a light- to medium-bodied, bright Chenin Blanc, such as Domaine de la Petite Roche Chenin Blanc Anjou 2019 (88 points, $20).
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Approximate food costs: $25
- 2 pounds whole carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 white or yellow onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 3 cups unsalted vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 to 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
1. Preheat oven to 425° F. On a large sheet pan, toss carrots with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange cut-side down, cover with foil and transfer to the oven to roast for 20 minutes. Discard the foil and roast for about 15 minutes more until the carrots are tender and charred in spots.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, a thyme sprig or two and curry powder. Stir to combine and then let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes until the onions are softened and lightly browned. (Reduce heat to medium-low if onions start to burn.) Remove pot from the heat while the carrots finish.
3. Once the carrots are roasted, roughly chop them and add them to the pot with stock, 1 to 2 cups of water (depending on how thick you like your soup) and ginger. Bring to a boil, stir and then reduce to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and let simmer on low for 15 minutes. Remove thyme sprig. Carefully transfer to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (To adjust to desired consistency, add in 1/4 cup of water at a time.) Transfer to bowls and serve with lemon wedges. Serves 4 to 6.