Scented Spring Soup

The beautiful thing about soup is that it’s always a snapshot of time. It’s a snapshot of what is abundant, what is flavorful, and what is in season at any given time of year. A hearty and slow-cooked, meat-rich stew can ward off the chill of winter.  A chilled vichyssoise or tangy gazpacho embodies the balm of summer.

This vibrantly colored and floral-scented soup perfectly captures the essence of spring. It is made sweet by the natural sugars in the carrot and fennel, and the fragrance is reminiscent of a garden in bloom: green, herbaceous, and perfumed by nectar-rich buds. The use of both fennel and coriander seed imbues a blossom-like, almost lemon flavor, and the turmeric adds subtle depth and intense color. Instead of traditional mirepoix used in nearly all soup bases, leek – the darling of spring – is used to build a fresh and buttery base.

The complexity of flavors in this recipe is not weighed down by unnecessary dairy. Instead, the starch inherent in the sweet potato acts as a vegetable emulsifier, giving the soup a creamy texture.

Ingredients

5 Carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 small sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped

1 small bulb of fennel, roughly chopped and fronds reserved

2 leeks, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon of fennel seed

½ teaspoon of coriander seed

1 teaspoon of turmeric

½ cup of dry white wine

3 litres of vegetable stock

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, divided

1 teaspoon of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 400F

Toss the carrot and sweet potato in 1 tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with salt

Arrange in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking tray and roast for 30 minutes

At the 30-minute mark, toss the fennel in a light drizzle of olive oil and place on top of the roasting carrots and sweet potato and roast for another 10-15 minutes

In a mortar and pestle, grind the fennel seed and coriander seed

Place a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat

Once the pot is warm add the remaining vegetable oil and leeks and sauté for about 5 minutes, until softened

Add to the pot: garlic, ground coriander seed and fennel seed and turmeric, and sauté until well coated and the spices are aromatic (about 1-2 minutes)

Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and add them to the pot

Stir until everything is well combined and coated in the spice mixture

At this point, add the white wine and deglaze, scraping the bottom of the pot to release any carbonized ingredients

Once the wine has evaporated (about a minute or so) add the vegetable stock and bring to a low boil

Reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are well softened, when you can crush them easily with the back of a spoon

Using an emersion blender, blitz the soup until smooth

If at this point the soup is too thick, thin it out with some more water

Add salt and pepper to taste

Serve garnished with reserved fennel fronds