Loaded with ginger and turmeric, this roasted carrot soup with caramelized fennel and pepitas is in total anti-inflammatory beast mode. It’s also ridiculously, addictively delicious. I’m actually surprised by how good it is. I mean I’ve made carrot soup before. It’s nice. It’s mild. It’s very orange (or at least you hope it is). But it doesn’t usually knock my socks off, you know what I mean? But this soup? Wow.
I think it’s the combination of bright ginger, some lime, and coconut milk that really pumps up the carrot flavor. And then there’s the turmeric, a spice that’s kind of bitter (and also shockingly orange, guaranteeing your carrot soup looks very carroty–if that’s a word). I put a whole tablespoon in, thinking more about the anti-inflammatory benefits than enhancing flavor, and crossing my fingers that it wouldn’t simply ruin the soup. But it’s actually great. It adds this deep complexity. I think you need some bold flavors (i.e., the ginger and the lime) to counterbalance it. But wow, it really worked in this recipe.
So why the anti-inflammatory focus? Well there are all sorts of maladies and auto-immune inflammatory diseases that cause your body to produce an inflammatory response. There are too many to list, but you can read about them here if you’re curious. If you have one you probably know it already. I have psoriatic arthritis myself. It’s one of the reasons I eat a Mediterranean style diet (which is well regarded as an anti-inflammatory diet).
At any rate, if you have systemic inflammation this can be horribly exacerbated by foods that cause inflammation. That would be things like sugar, processed foods, saturated fats (processed meats, sausages, bacon, yes, I said bacon, red meat, cheese), trans fats (cookies, donuts, margarine, no-stir peanut butter), Omega-6 fatty acids (vegetable oils, corn oil, safflower oil), refined carbohydrates (white bread, french fries, white pasta, most baked goods), alcohol (beer, wine, liquor, ouch, this one hurts!), and at least for some people, gluten (celiac disease) and the dairy protein casein (dairy intolerance). If you suffer from an inflammatory disorder you probably ought to avoid these foods because they’re making it worse. In some cases they may be part of the cause.
I know, I know. Freakin’ killjoy. I just sucked all of the fun out of the room. Hey, I didn’t make the rules. I have to live by them too.
Apart from avoiding inflammation producing foods we can also eat foods that fight inflammation. That would be foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, anti-oxidants, and phytochemicals. And that’s where we can reintroduce the fun. I’m talking about foods like:
- Fatty cold water fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines), which are loaded with the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and which are not found in plant sources, which is a primary reason why I won’t likely ever go fully vegan.
- Nuts and seeds, which are loaded with ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a short-chain omega-3 fatty acid.
- Extra virgin olive oil, and which actually mimics the effect of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Fruits, tomatoes, and green leafy vegetables.
- Beta carotene-rich vegetables (squashes, carrots, sweet potatoes).
- Certain spices, like ginger, garlic, cinnamon, and turmeric.
- Capsaicin (i.e., hot peppers and chilis).
Anyhow, autumn seems to be beta carotene season, what with all of the squashes and root veggies that are available. I started with a bunch of carrots and tried to see how much of an anti-inflammatory beast I could concoct. And I added turmeric, which contains a compound called curcumin, which has strong anti-inflammatory properties. And ginger, which is closely related to turmeric, has a compound called gingerol, which also has strong anti-inflammatory properties. And pepitas (pumpkin seeds), which are loaded with plant based Omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid). And coconut milk, which despite the use of the name ‘milk’ is not actually an inflammatory dairy product.
I considered adding smoked salmon for the additional omega-3s, but I decided to keep the dish vegan. That said, I did add smoked salmon to my serving when I had leftovers the next day and wow, it works really well and I strongly recommend the addition. It’s so good I don’t even want a bacon donut.
By the way, turmeric has historically been used as a fabric dying agent, and it’s extremely effective in that application. Get this stuff on your clothing and kiss it goodbye. It’s orange-stained forever. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
If you give this a try, post a photo to Instagram and tag it #slowburningpassion so I can see it. Enjoy!
- 2 Pounds Carrots
- 4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Yellow Onion
- 6 Cloves Garlic
- 1½ Cups Coconut Milk
- 1 Tablespoon Turmeric
- 1½ Teaspoons Kosher Salt
- ½ Teaspoon Ground Cayenne Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Grated Fresh Ginger
- Juice of 1 Lime
- 4-6 Cups of Water
- 2 Large Fennel Bulbs
- 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pinch of Salt
- ¼ Cup Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)
- 4 Tablespoons of finely minced Scallions (Green Tops Only)
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Coat the carrots with two tablespoons of the olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until tender, but not caramelized (to preserve the bright orange color), about one hour.
- When the carrots are done, turn up the oven heat to 400°F. Slice the fennel bulbs into thin slices and slowly saute them in three tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt until they begin to soften. Place the skillet into the oven and roast the fennel until it becomes crispy and caramelized (20 - 30 minutes). Set aside.
- Heat a dry skillet over medium heat and add the pepitas. Toast in the skillet until they begin to brown, about 3 or 4 minutes. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, dice the onion and saute in a skillet with the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil until tender (about 12 minutes). Peel and mince the garlic and add it to the skillet. Cook until garlic is fragrant and begins to brown.
- Place the carrots and the onion mixture in a blender. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the water. Blend until smooth, adding water to thin to soup consistency.
- Pour pureed soup mixture into a soup pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add more water to thin the soup as necessary.
- Ladle warm soup into bowls and garnish with caramelized fennel, pepitas, and scallion greens.