Sometimes the best intentions don’t always lead you where you thought you’d arrive. When I saw a crate full of rainbow hued carrots at the market I of course thought: these will make a gorgeous photograph. I also thought, someone naively it turns out, that they would make a very colorful soup as well. To keep things in the saturated theme I had in mind I pulled down my jar of red lentils, and chose red onions over plain white ones.
As I cut, chopped and washed my way through the legumes and produce, I realized that working with these kinds of colors, on a bright and sunny Roman Sunday, just makes me happy. When I cut open the deep purple carrots, to reveal their banana-colored core I almost started laughing.
In my mind, I was already imagining how gorgeous a drizzle of blinding white full fat yogurt was going to look splattered across my warm bowl of orange soup.
Since I wasn’t adding any stock or meat – just water – I decided to roast the vegetables first, to give the soup added depth and flavor. And that’s when things started to get very brown.
While the sugars in the carrots and onions were caramelizing, they formed a nice brown crust. And to cut a long story short, my dream of a big bowl of orange turned into what was essentially a sludge-colored pot of lentils. Whatever orange the lentils started out with soon gave way to the blues and purples of the carrots and onions, plus the nice caramelized bits.
But looks don’t matter, right? Plus, I could still swirl my yoghurt, use my pretty plate and a handful of orange zest brightens everything up. And even though the soup wasn’t the bright bowl of sunshiny orange I had envisioned, it made me pretty happy anyway.
- 1.5 kilos / 3 pounds carrots
- 3 red onions
- 1 bunch fresh thyme (about 3 tablespoons leaves)
- 2 cups red lentils
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- salt, pepper
- 2- 3 tablespoons garam masala
- ½ to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- parsley, chopped
- orange zest from 1 orange, chopped
- Preheat oven to 180C/ 350F
- Peel the carrots and cut them into ½ inch rounds. Peel and cut the onions into eights. Place in a bowl, and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. and thyme.
- Cover two baking sheets with parchment, and divide the carrots and onions between the two sheets, so that they are evenly distributed in one layer.
- Place in oven, and roast until nicely browned and tender. This will take about 45 minutes to an hour. Halfway through, switch the pans, so that the bottom one is on top, and the top on the bottom.
- Place the roasted vegetables in a large pot. Add the lentils and fill the pot with water so that it comes up about an inch above the mixture. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 45 minutes. The lentils will disintegrate and the carrots should be very tender.
- Taste and adjust for salt, and add the cayenne pepper and garum masala. Let cook for another ten minutes, then roughly puree with a hand held mixer.
- Ladle into bowls, and top with a swirl of yoghurt, parsley and chopped orange zest.