Carrots are one of the unsung heroes of the kitchen. They are used everyday as a regular member of the trio of background veggies that add flavor to so many soups and... stews, but they don’t often get to be the star of the dish. They finally get their chance to shine in this delicious, easy-to-make carrot soup, which can be enjoyed hot or chilled. After tasting it, you will surely want to give them an encore.
In a stockpot heat the olive oil and cloves over medium-high heat. Once the cloves pop, add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the maple syrup if using, nutmeg, thyme, and lemon zest. Cook for 5 minutes, or just until the onions start to caramelize.
Add the carrots and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 to 7 minutes. Pour in the water, and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
Remove the cloves. Purée the soup with a hand blender or food processor. If serving chilled, bring to room temperature then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. If serving hot, reheat through.
Either way you are serving it, hot or cold, stir in lemon juice and top with basil before serving.
In the summer, the sweet, slender new season’s carrots start to appear. These are the best choice for this soup. If you use older, bigger loose carrots, be sure to peel them well. The skin can sometimes be a little bitter. If your mouth is sore, don’t add the lemon juice.
Maple syrup adds its distinctive sweetness to this soup, but it is sugar. If you’re trying to cut down, either leave it out or substitute with a tablespoon of organic golden raisins which will bring fiber, minerals, and vitamins along with their sweetness. If you opt for the raisins, add them in step 1 as you would the syrup.