Casablanca in a bowl: Moroccan spiced carrot soup

Casablanca in a bowl: Moroccan spiced carrot soup

Here’s looking at you, carrots.

In keeping with my culinary exploration of flavors from around the globe, I decided that my next sojourn would be to the fabled land of Morocco. But being that I can’t afford the airfare, this trip would have to take place in my kitchen.

Moroccan food has always appealed to me because of its use of vibrantly colored and flavorful spices. The cuisine reflects Moorish, Mediterranean, Arab and Berber influences, its dishes even more heavily spiced than those of the aforementioned locales.

Cinnamon, coriander, cumin, turmeric, paprika, ginger and saffron are just a few of the many spices often used in Morocco’s signature tagines, couscous dishes, pastillas, soups and sides.

Besides the meat- and lamb- heavy main dishes, Moroccans use a wide range of fruit and vegetables in their cookery. That’s why I’ve chosen this flavorful carrot soup as the vehicle for my “spicy” fix.

Great for any time of the year, this brightly colored, puréed Moroccan-spiced carrot soup is creamy, bursting with flavor, easy to prepare and also quite healthy. The featured ingredient is chock full of dietary fiber, antioxidants and vitamins — namely, beta carotene and vitamin A, which is great for eye health.

(Though unfortunately the urban legend that eating lots of carrots will allow one to see in the dark isn’t true.)

Feel free to play around with the spices in this soup, adding more or less of whatever pleases your palate, or throw in a different combination of flavors typical of Moroccan cooking. And instead of orange carrots, why not grab some purple, red or yellow carrots to give it a colorful makeover?

My last piece of advice on this recipe: If you have a food processor, use it. It will surely save your hands from all of the chopping required and will cut your prep time in half.

Bil hana wish shifa’!

Moroccan Spiced Carrot Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 large white or yellow onion, chopped

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into a small dice or chopped up in a food processor

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 cinnamon stick (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon)

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper, to taste

Plain Greek yogurt, stirred to loosen (for garnish, as needed)

Ground coriander, for garnish

Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and allspice, and sauté for about 2 minutes, until the vegetables start to become soft and the spices release their fragrance. Add the broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.

2. Remove soup from the heat, take out the cinnamon stick (if using) and purée with an immersion blender or in a food processor or blender. Return puréed soup to the pot and stir in the honey and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Reheat soup over medium-low heat, if needed, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom of the mixture from burning.

3. Ladle soup into bowls, spoon a little yogurt on top of each serving and sprinkle coriander and cilantro over them. Serve hot.

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