Silky Smooth Carrot Soup and Ras El Hanout Pumpkin Seeds

Serves 10 generously

This is one of those soups that is sophisticated because of its simplicity. You can use it as a backdrop for all kinds of flavors, think carrot and coriander soup, or curried carrot soup or perhaps cumin. Here I have left it bare and strained it through a wire mesh sieve to make the soup silky smooth, but whatever flavor or texture you are after this soup is a winner.

To take this soup to the next level, instead of store-bought croutons, I have crisped up pumpkin seeds with Moroccan ras el hanout – it may have been an excuse; I love this spice blend so much I’m always looking for ways to sneak it into my food. Not only are these pumpkin seeds a fantastic accompaniment to this soup, but they’re a pretty irresistible snack as well, which is all good since the recipe below makes at least twice as much as you will need to garnish the soup.

For soup:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon (plus more to taste) diamond kosher salt
  • 2 kilos carrots, peeled, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 liter (4 ¼ cups) vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 liter (4 ¼ cups) approximately water
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Flakey sea salt to taste
  • For Ras El Hanout Pumpkin Seeds:
  • Non-stick oil spray
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons ras el hanut
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 250g (2 cups) hulled pumpkin seeds

For Soup:

  1. Heat a large stockpot over medium heat; once hot, add the olive oil and heat until shimmering, once shimmering, add the onions and salt and stir. Keep sauteing until the onions are very soft but do not color, about 10 -15 minutes. To prevent the onions coloring, stir often if the onions start to stick to the pan or any patches start browning, add a tablespoon of water, and keep on cooking.
  2. Once the onions are very soft add the carrots and stock, add enough water to just cover the vegetables and season with salt. Bring the soup to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and partially cover the pot. Simmer for 30-40 minutes until the carrots are very soft and mash easily with a fork.
  3. Using an immersion blender or a stand blender, blend the soup until super smooth. If you like for an even finer consistency, pass the soup through a fine wire mesh sieve. Add the fresh lemon juice and honey taste and adjust seasoning with salt.
  4. Soup can be made and stored in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for up to a month. To serve, reheat and adjust seasoning before serving as the refrigeration or freezing, and reheating will alter the taste of the soup.

For the Ras El Hanout Pumpkin Seeds:

  1. Heat oven to 180℃ (350℉). Line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg white, lemon juice, and oil. Whisk into the egg mixture; the ras el hanut, sugar, salt, and cayenne pepper (if using), add the pumpkin seeds and mix until all the seeds are well coated.
  3. Spread the pumpkin seeds out in a single layer on the prepared baking tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the pumpkin seeds have nearly dried out and some appear toasted. Remove and let cool, they will crisp up as they cool. Pumpkin seeds can be made up to 5 days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.