Why It Works
- Roasting a portion of the carrots adds complexity and intensifies their sweetness.
- The addition of carrot juice enhances the overall carrot flavor.
- Sweating the aromatics softens them and releases their allium flavors.
- Puréeing the soup with butter produces a rich, silky texture.
If you’re looking for a classic take on carrot soup, this is it. It’s velvety smooth and creamy, without any actual cream. And while it has no surprising ingredients, it’s by no means bland. Success lies not in fancy tricks, but solid technique: An assemblage of roasted carrots, simmered carrots, and carrot juice bring forth fresh, earthy, sweet, and vegetal notes. Additional layers of flavor come from aromatics like onion, leek, and garlic, along with a finishing dollop of lemon-herb yogurt garnish.
Carrot is undoubtedly the star here, but this soup would be incredibly dull without any supporting components. That’s where the aromatics come into play. We want the leek, onion, and garlic to complement the carrot, not compete with it, for a great foundation to build the soup on. That means sweating them until soft and tender without browning them, drawing out their moisture and flavor without developing any color that would make them overly robust.
For a more complex and expansive carrot flavor, I divide the carrots in half and cook them two ways—roasted and simmered. The caramelization and Maillard browning that occur during roasting breaks down the carrots' natural sugars, enhancing their sweetness and adding more concentrated depth of flavor. By simmering the other portion of carrots, the soup also has fresh and clean carrot notes.
For the liquid, I’m using a mix of vegetable stock and carrot juice. I far prefer homemade vegetable stock, which is ridiculously easy to make and will give you much better flavor than most of the store-bought options; if you do want the convenience of a packaged vegetable stock, look for one with a simple ingredient list of vegetables and not much more.
Carrot juice, on the other hand, is just fine from a store—you can usually find it in the refrigerated produce section of most grocery stores. It adds a bright layer of concentrated carrot flavor, boosting the overall flavor of the soup. Keep in mind when making blended soups like this that it's always better to start with less liquid, then add more as needed to reach the proper consistency after blending. Add too much early on, and you're stuck with thin soup, or a very long reduction step that can kill some of the fresh carrot flavor. The soup shouldn’t be a thick puree that drops off a spoon in globs. Instead, it should be thick enough to coat the spoon but still pour off it like a liquid when tipped.
For the smoothest and silkiest texture, a blender, with its unmatched speed and vortex power, is your best option. A blender will also ensure that the final addition of rich butter gets emulsified properly, which adds a luscious texture to the soup. For an even silkier, restaurant-quality texture, you can press the soup through a fine-mesh sieve.
The tangy, herby yogurt adds a bright finish to the dish. But the garnish is also one of the easiest ways to keep a soup interesting, changing it up to suit your mood. You could top it off with a number of things, such as brown butter, a drizzle of olive oil, or a sprinkle of curry powder.
- For the Lemon-Herb Yogurt:
- 1/2 cup (4 1/4 ounces; 120g) plain full-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons (8g) finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
- For the Carrot Soup:
- 2 1/2 pounds (1.1kg) carrots (about 12 medium carrots), peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices, divided
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt
- 1 large leek (10 1/2 ounces; 300g), white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
- 1 large yellow onion (12 ounces; 340g), thinly sliced
- 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed under the flat side of a knife
- 3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
- 5 cups (1.2L) homemade or store-bought vegetable stock, plus more as needed
- 1 cup (235ml) fresh or store-bought carrot juice, plus more as needed
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 ounces; 60g), divided
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
For the Lemon-Herb Yogurt: In a small bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and parsley until well combined. Cover and refrigerate.
For the Carrot Soup: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 375°F (190°C). On a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, toss half of the carrots (1 1/4 pounds) with 1 tablespoon (15ml) oil; season with salt. Roast, stirring halfway through, until carrots are tender and deep golden brown in spots, about 25 minutes. Set aside.
In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat remaining 2 tablespoons (30ml) oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add leek, onion, and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, 7 to 10 minutes.
Add remaining carrots along with the roasted carrots, parsley sprigs, vegetable stock, and carrot juice. Season lightly with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower to maintain a steady simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the carrots are completely tender, about 25 minutes. Discard parsley.
Ladle half of liquid and solid ingredients into a blender jar and add half of the butter (1 ounce; 2 tablespoons). Remove the blender lid plug (this will allow steam pressure to escape), close lid, and set a folded clean dish towel on top to cover the hole in the blender lid (keep your hand on the towel to hold it in place). Starting at the lowest speed and gradually increasing to the highest, blend the soup until it is completely smooth. Transfer soup to a large pot (if an even smoother texture is desired, pass soup base through a fine-mesh strainer into the pot). Repeat with remaining soup and butter. If soup is too thick, thin as needed with additional vegetable stock or carrot juice to desired consistency (the consistency should not be a thick purée, but rather a silky, creamy, soup-like one). Whisk in lemon juice and season to taste with salt.
Divide soup among warmed bowls and drizzle with lemon-herb yogurt.
Rimmed baking sheet, Dutch oven, blender, fine mesh strainer
Carrot juice can be found in most grocery stores, refrigerated in the produce section. Look for 100% pure carrot juice.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The soup can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. The lemon herb yogurt can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.