carrot soup and almond-parsley pesto

carrot soup and almond parsley pesto

Did your mother – or someone else who presumably cared about your well being  – ever tell you that peeling a carrot takes away all its vitamins?

It’s one of those admonitions that gets stuck in your head for the rest of your life, probably because you first heard it when soft brain material was still forming (up till the age of 26, I read somewhere). Those whose job it was to see that you grew up with all parts intact did their best to point out every which way you could inflict damage, wreaking havoc on not only yourself, but others, too. You know:

Don’t run across the room with that sharp pencil – you’ll put someone’s eye out!

You’re going to fall off that tree/roof/high-up-dangerous place on top of the swingset and crack your head open!

If you sit so close to the TV in this dark room; YOU”LL GO BLIND!

I can’t think of such warnings having to do with food equally as menacing as the visions of heads cracked open like watermelons dropped from a tall building and eyeballs plucked whole out of their sockets by an innocent writing tool. Oh, there was something about Vitamin C – not enough and you’d become riddled with scurvy and toothlessness. Other than that my takeaway nutritional wisdom remains; All the Vitamins are in the Skin.

I only just learned (like, yesterday) that in fact, peeling carrots has absolutely little effect on the nutrients contained therein. Other forms of produce, such as apples, pears and potatoes, yes – keep the skins on. But carrots? Turns out that some of the best stuff in carrots, like the beta carotene, is in there all the way through. Lots of vitamins, antioxidants and magical cells live in the colorful parts of fruits and vegetables, and if the food is the same color inside without its skin, no harm done.

I admit I do peel carrots when they have an abundance of stiff, old root hairs and tiny clods of dirt. Who wants to eat that?? Plus they look brighter and prettier without the skin. Fresh little carrot bunches with their green tops on don’t usually have that problem.

Having gone on and said all that (are you still reading this?), it won’t make much difference if the skin is on or off the carrots in this soup recipe since they get pureed in the end. It’s your call.

carrot soup with almond parsley pesto

I’ve just started browsing through Deborah Madison’s tremendously wonderful new book, Vegetable Literacy.  The book is organized by families of vegetables, how they’re related and play together – I LOVE that.

The first chapter covers The Carrot Family, which includes celery, parsley, fennel and coriander. Carrots remind me of spring, and parsley reminds me of carrots, so there’s the starting point for my soup.

carrot soup and almond-parsley pesto

Yield: serves 4 - 6

This soup couldn't be simpler and tastes like the essence of carrot. Use any leftover pesto within a day or two, tossed with roasted vegetables or spread on a warm crostini.


  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 2 tablespoons butter
  3. 1 ½ pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  4. 1 onion, chopped
  5. 2 stalks celery, chopped
  6. 2 teaspoons salt
  7. 1 teaspoon sugar
  8. 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  9. 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  10. 1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur (optional)
  11. Pesto:
  12. 1 bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley
  13. ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  14. 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
  15. ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  16. Salt
  17. ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese


  1. Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan until butter melts; add the carrots, onion, celery, salt sugar and coriander. Stir the vegetables around and cook until they begin to release liquid and become softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Pour in 6 cups water and bring to a simmer. Cook about 15 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Remove from the heat and cool for a bit, then puree the soup in a blender until completely smooth. Stir in lemon juice and amaretto, if using, and taste for salt.
  3. To make the pesto, reserve a few parsley leaves and chop the rest in a small food processor until finely chopped. Add all but 1 tablespoon of the almonds and pulse until the nuts are finely chopped and the mixture forms a paste; add the fennel seeds, olive oil, salt to taste and the cheese and pulse to combine.
  4. Serve the soup with a spoonful of pesto and sprinkle with remaining parsley leaves and almonds.

cream of roasted tomato soup


My resolution to make more soup slacked a little; I haven’t made soup since the egg drop soup I posted last month.

Well, I take that back; I did add some Chinese noodles to a bowl of hot chicken broth last week when my kids had a sore throat, but that’s about it. For a few seconds there I felt my own self heading toward the flu, and joined them on the couch, wrapped up in a blanket.

That down time felt good, and it worked too. I finally added Downton Abbey to my Netflix queue and got all caught up with the first season during a marathon session – something I hardly ever let myself do.

I’m not a great television person. It’s hard to sit passively for what seems to me like time wasted; I find myself thinking of lists to write, books I need to read and some random details of daily life I think I forgot to do.

Letting all that stuff go once in a while is obviously good for the soul. And how lucky for me that since I’ve missed the first 2 seasons of a show that every person I know seems to be talking about, I now have LOTS to catch up on.

Don’t tell me what happened during last week’s episode – I know there was enough drama to cause sobbing in front of the television, but I’m not there yet!


I made a batch of this creamy tomato soup and my kids and I finished it off when they came home from school. When I make it again, I will double the portions to have a little leftover for lunch the next day.

Instead of milk, I used fresh bread as a thickener; thinking of the creamy version of Campbell’s soup my mom would make for me.

cream of roasted tomato soup

Serving Size: makes 2 - 4 servings


  1. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  2. ½ large white or yellow onion, sliced
  3. 2 pounds small vine-ripened tomatoes, such as Campari, sliced in half
  4. 1 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
  5. ½ teaspoon sugar
  6. 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  7. Freshly ground black pepper
  8. 2 or 3 thick slices peasant-style bread, crusts trimmed
  9. 3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Parmesan
  10. 1 – 2 cups cup vegetable broth or water
  11. Crostini, soft goat cheese or ricotta and chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, thyme or basil)


  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Pour the olive oil into a baking dish or pan that will hold the tomatoes snugly (I used a 14-inch cast iron skillet); scatter the onion evenly over the bottom.
  3. Arrange the tomatoes cut side up over the onion and sprinkle with the salt and sugar.
  4. Roast 20 minutes; then scatter the garlic over the tomatoes and roast for about 10 more minutes – the tomatoes and onion should be soft and golden and their juices bubbling. Season the tomatoes with the black pepper to taste and cool 10 or 15 minutes.
  5. Transfer the tomatoes to a blender or food processor. Tear the bread slices into small chunks and add to the tomatoes (one half at a time if blending in 2 batches) along with the cheese. Add enough broth or water to barely cover the tomatoes – it will depend on how juicy the tomatoes are after roasting.
  6. Puree until smooth, in batches if necessary, adding more bread and/or liquid to achieve a consistency you like. I prefer the soup with a little body rather than very brothy. Taste for seasoning. Spread the crostini with some goat cheese and sprinkle with herbs to and place one in each bowl of soup.

egg drop soup with kale and potato

Egg drop soup with kale and potato

Soup is in these days (yes, you might rightfully ask: when was it ever out?) If cool cities like Portland are an indication, soup is having a moment. I’ve seen hardy entrepreneurs load homemade soup into specially crafted thermal boxes fitted on the racks of their bicycles for delivery to hungry people around downtown Portland, sometimes with freshly baked bread on the side. I know there are lots of other cool cities with soup carts and bicycles but I’m just speaking from my personal experience in that particular one.

My sister-in-law lives in Portland, which is arguably the food truck capital of the world. And also maybe the rainy day capital of the world, so it makes a lot of sense that the demand for warm, comforting bowls of soup would be higher given the situation. When she was visiting recently, we talked about how we don’t seem to treat soup as a full meal. Or rather, I realized that I don’t. She goes out to the soup cart for lunch, after all.

It’s something I mean to change. I might even call it a New Year’s resolution – to make more soup! My son loves nothing more than eating soup, with the very strong exception of soup containing any form of seafood; so I know I have at least one taker.

egg drop soup egg drop soup with kale

This homey egg drop soup – stracciatella – is as Italian-grandma as it gets. Except for I don’t remember either of my Italian grandmothers making it –  a loss I can easily get over now that I’m a big girl.

You might know what happens to eggs when mixed with hot liquids, but the magic of this soup is that combined with fine semolina, they turn a basic broth into a creamy soup filled with “tiny shreds” of egg, the stracciatelle. I added some potato and kale to my soup to make it even more of a nourishing meal. It must be the Italian mama in me or something.

Egg drop soup with kale and potato

Egg drop soup with kale and potato

Serving Size: Serves 4

The semolina flour swells as it cooks, giving the soup a creamy consistency. I like Asiago here; it's like a combination of Parmesan and Pecorino Romano, but Parmesan will be delicious that's all you have.


  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  2. 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
  3. Salt
  4. 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  5. 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 2 tablespoons semolina flour
  8. 2 tablespoons freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
  9. 1 1/2 cups finely shredded kale


  1. Heat the oil or butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the potato and cook for 2 minutes; stir in the onion with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for a few more minutes.
  2. Pour in 1 cup of the broth, lower the heat, cover the pan and cook until the potato is soft.
  3. Whisk together 1 cup broth in a bowl with the eggs, flour and cheese.
  4. Add the remaining 2 cups broth to the pan and bring to a boil.
  5. Slowly add the egg mixture to pan, whisking constantly; turn the heat down to low and continue whisking for 2 minutes, until the soup thickens.
  6. Stir in the kale. Serve in bowls with additional cheese, if you like.


inspired by Mario Batali