Recipe provided by Simon Bryant
Carrot soup runs the risk of becoming one-dimensional if the sweetness of the carrots is allowed to dominate. This recipe acknowledges the sweetness, but its rescued by the cumin and coriander, which nudge the flavours more to a savoury spectrum, and the yoghurt and orange zest, which deliver tang. The farro brings an earthy dimension to the dish and almost turns it into a complete meal.I don't get too fussy about the quality of the carrots for this. I believe very strongly in buying the best ingredients I can, but in this case I would rather spend the money on a great extra virgin olive oil to finish the dish. Farro usually requires quite a bit of soaking. You can get away without it in this recipe, if you're in a hurry, but make sure you rinse the farro a few times under cold running water, then up the water content by ½ cup (125 ml) and add 15-20 minutes to the cooking time. Oh, and a note about using wine in cooking: if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it. You will notice undesirable flavours in your dish if you skimp on the wine. In this case, you are after something dry; I often use sparkling white if I don't have a suitable dry white wine on hand.
3 tablespoons cracked farro, soaked overnight in cold water
Salt flakes and cracked black pepper
100 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus a splash for drizzling
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick
1 kg carrots, diced
4 tablespoons dry white wine or sparkling white wine
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1 handful each mint and coriander leaves, chopped
½ cup (140 g) greek-style yoghurt
1. Drain the farro, discarding the soaking water. Place it in a heavy-based saucepan with ¾ cup (180 ml) of cold water and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook the farro for 20 minutes until its tender to the bite, then drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and sweat the onion until its soft and translucent. Add the garlic, coriander, cumin and cinnamon and saute for 5 minutes, then add the carrots and 3 teaspoons of salt and saute for a further 5“8 minutes until the carrot is coated with the spices and slightly coloured. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Add 800 ml of water and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes until the carrot is tender.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and discard the cinnamon. Carefully blend the diced carrots to a smooth consistency using a stick blender. Stir in the orange juice, then check the seasoning, adding more salt to taste.
4. Fold the orange zest and chopped herbs through the yoghurt and add a pinch of salt. Place a large spoonful of farro into four warmed soup bowls and ladle the carrot and orange soup over the top. Garnish with a dollop of the herb yoghurt. Finish with an extra splash of olive oil and a good twist of black pepper.
Photography by Rodney Weidland