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Spicy Carrot Soup with Pesto Croutons

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 onion
  • 1 lb. carrots
  • 1/2 inch thick slice ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 quart stock (chicken or vegetable) or substitute water plus 1 Tbs. light miso
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste (or white pepper)

for pesto croutons

  • 6 slices sweet Italian baguette
  • 2 cloves (medium sized) garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sweet basil leaves (lightly packed)
  • 2 tsp. pine nuts
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil (extra-virgin)
  • 2 Tbs. grated Reggiano parmesan cheese

Peel and coarsely dice onion. Peel and evenly slice carrots. Peel and chop ginger and garlic. Warm olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add onion, carrots and ginger. Sauté over medium heat until starting to soften. Add garlic, and continue to cook for a minute longer. Add cayenne and stock or water and miso, and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn down to a simmer and cook, covered for 15 minutes. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Continue to cook another 10 minutes, until very soft. Puree in the blender (or with an immersion blender) until smooth. Adjust seasonings, add more liquid (water’s fine) if too thick.

Toast baguette slices until lightly browned and crunchy, either in oven (350°F.) or toaster. Set aside. Make pesto by combining garlic and salt in a mortar and crushing well with the pestle, then add basil and work into a paste, add nuts, continue to mash until pasty, and then oil.  Add cheese at the end (remove some pesto for non-dairy person) OR combine garlic, salt, basil and pine nuts in food processor or mini processor, puree, then drizzle in oil and stir in cheese.

To serve, place a scoop of soup in a flat bowl. Top with a pesto-covered baguette slice.