Soup is my barometer.
Soup tells me how much a restaurant cares about the details of their dishes. It’s not the daily fish special or the fanciest steak on the menu that can tell you everything about a restaurants menu… all of the details and love and care (if they are there) are in the soup.
I’m talking about in the development of flavors, the house-made stock, the onion dice, the thorough puree, the texture, the garnish, the temperature. And… since soup is not one of those glitzy menu items like pork-belly-this or fried-brussels-sprout-that… soup sits around waiting for just the right amount of salt and heat and garnish to make it shiiiine exactly bright.
Last week I ordered Carrot Jalapeño Soup at Sylvain, one of my very favorite New Orleans restaurants. On point. The soup was perfectly creamy (probably laden with an ample amount of heavy cream), and juuuust spicy enough to make me question and affirm my choices. The soup had so much love and care, it really could have outshined any type of bacon fat on the menu.
Because some of a good thing is never enough, I made my own Carrot Jalapeño Soup, vegan and with feeling.
This soup is spicy, creamy, filling and delicious! Dang near as delicious as this Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup, but maybe that’s just me having a thing for raw cashews. Let’s discuss.
This soup, as most soups do, comes together rather discretely with sautéed onions and garlic. I also added fresh thyme leaves before adding the spice of fresh jalapeños and sweetness of fresh carrots.
Building flavors is key.
Carrot soup is also lovely with the balance from fresh celery. It adds just the right amount of earthiness to the soup. Celery always seems rather affirming in nature.
As the soup simmers, with carrots, jalapeños, and vegetable stock, we make a simple cashew cream.
Cashew cream is born (bus mostly blended) from raw cashews and filtered water. It remarkable that such a simple mixture can add such a wonderfully creamy texture to our soup!
Once the carrots are simmered to soft, we puree the soup (jalapeños, broth and all) into a smooth puree with an immersion or upright blender. The blending is satisfying and steamy.
Finish the soup by stirring in the cashew cream, tasting, and adding salt and a touch of pepper.
Because I didn’t strain the soup or the cashew cream, we’re left with a hearty soup full of character and bite. I used two jalapeños per pound of carrots. The jalapeños were de-seeded to remove a bit of the spice and bitterness. It’s just enough spice to compliment the sweetness of the carrots. This soup is simple, yet full of comfort and care. I hope you love it!