Moroccan Carrot Soup

Moroccan Carrot SoupFood Fancy

Every January the Fancy Food Show comes to San Francisco. It’s one of the best things about my job. For three whole days, the Moscone Center is filled with artisans, vintners, farmers, cheese mongers, chocolatiers and distributors from around the globe showing people anything and everything you could possible think of in the world of food. The people watching is beyond entertaining.

The last few years of the show have been, well, boring. It was the same stuff over and over again, which made sense because of the economy. Nobody took a risk on a new line when there was no money to be spent. On top of that there was, frankly, a lot of junky and repetitive stuff. How much flavored popcorn do you need? And really? Another Fair Trade Organic Chocolate?

This year’s Fancy Food Show was different. There was a buzz in the air. If I could choose one word to describe the vibe it would be passion. Passion for ingredients. (And not just a single ingredient. Bacon spread anyone?) Passion for making something the very best it could be. A great example is the variety of ice creams. Yes, there were many, but all were made to an artisan’s exacting standards and the flavors were not the usual. They included: Banana Cinnamon, Nola Coffee & Donuts, Salted Caramel and, my favorite, Chocolate Covered Strawberry with real milk and strawberries not (strawberry-like bits). This same attention to quality went way beyond the ice cream into the salami, and cheese, and baked goods, on a scale I haven’t seen recently. The possibilities and offerings were endless.

The silliness and the crazy water fad costumes of years past were replaced by innovative, young, enthusiastic food lovers with whisk tattoos, who were interested in making real food and not re-packaging the same old ideas. Even better, most of these companies were small and independent. In prior shows the big time players would dominate the scene, but not so much this year. (Let’s hear it for the little guys!) Throw in a Top Chef demonstration or two and I found myself inspired. The food industry seems to be changing for the better.

Below is a soup that my recently inspired self is ready to whip up…when my feet stop hurting.

Moroccan Carrot Soup
by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen
Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 cup chopped white onion
1 pound large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 2/3 cups)
2 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup plain yogurt, stirred to loosen

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Mix in carrots. Add broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir cumin seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes; cool. Finely grind in spice mill.

Remove soup from heat. Puree in batches in blender until smooth. Return to same pan. Whisk in honey, lemon juice, and allspice. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle yogurt over; sprinkle generously with cumin.

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