I love the color orange, in spite of myself. It’s a loud color. A sarcastic color. Orange is the color that recites dirty limericks in front of your grandmother. But it is also the color of the meatiest part of the afternoon, when the sun is flexing its last bits of daytime muscle before retreating into the softer folds of pink and mauve. It is the color of the shag carpet from preschool – the tufted, polyester lawn that cradles small, dream-filled heads every afternoon. And it is the color that never fails to make me happy, even amidst a swirling sea of very gray days.
But what does the color orange taste like? It’s cheating to say it tastes like that citrus with the same name. Too easy. And too simple. I think the color isn’t quite so sweet. It’s more jumpy. More hyper. With an arched eyebrow and that throaty laugh that comes from eating too many sweet tarts. It’s just…more.
I set out to make an orange soup the other day. In order to fit more easily into searchable categories and whatnot, I will hang my head and call it “carrot soup” here, though that’s a bit like describing Gene Kelly as an “actor.” It started with carrots, then onions, then wine. A note in the Flavor Bible reminded me that carrots lose some of their carroty brightness when they are cooked, so the carrots that make up the base are boosted by a generous handful of raw, grated carrots at the end. Garlic for integrity. Cumin for complexity. Lemon for acerbic wit. And a little mint for fun.
This is fine to eat right away and hot, but if you can hold out until at least a few hours later (if not the next day), when it has had time to properly chill and the flavors can really get to know each other, it’s so much better. It really shines when eaten cold, like an orange gazpacho. Use it to brighten your day when all else fails. I have it on good authority that it works wonders.
Chilled Carrot Soup
1 yellow onion, diced
6 medium carrots, washed and peeled
1 cup water
1 cup white wine
1 cup broth - chicken or vegetable
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
2 bay leaves
Juice from half a lemon
1 T Cumin
10 fresh mint leaves, washed and dried
Sea salt, at least 1t
- Chop 5 carrots
- Boil the liquid
- Add the vegetables
- Simmer for 15 minutes
- Mix in the rest
Cut five of the carrots into small disks, no thicker than ¼”. Bring the water, wine, and broth to a gentle boil in a medium saucepan or dutch oven (whatever you cook it in, be sure you have a lid). Add the diced onion, sliced carrots, crushed garlic, and bay leaves and turn the heat down until simmering. Cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and carefully remove the bay leaves. Working in batches, blend until smooth in a blender. As I’ve mentioned before, be sure to keep a hand on the blender lid to avoid a painful geyser of hot carrot mess. After each round of blending, transfer the newly smooth contents to a large bowl or Tupperware (something that will hold the whole batch with a little room to spare).
After you’ve blended it all, set it aside and grate the remaining carrot. Chop the mint as finely as possible. Fold the grated carrot and chopped mint into the soup, stirring well until fully combined. Add the lemon juice, cumin, and salt. Once you’ve really stirred it up, taste it to see if it needs more salt. Adjust as needed, chill, and enjoy.