Friday, July 1, 2016

Roast Carrot Soup

I know, I keep giving you carrot soup recipes, but this one was just so gorgeous I had to share it. I found it at the Kalbos Café at the West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen (West Cork, Ireland), when I stopped in for a quick light lunch (I’ve eaten there before). The Arts Centre itself took years to build, and opened in 2015. It’s been a very busy place ever since, and it plays an important role in the local cultural community. Brilliant move to have an place to eat right alongside it. (I tried to find a picture that showed both, but the cafe is kind of tucked in and it's hard to get both in the same shot.)

You may think of vegetable soup as a winter dish, but let me remind you that it’s cooler in Ireland than in the US in summer. Plus this is not one of those you have to stew for hours (oh, well, there is that turning on the oven thing). There are plenty of carrots in Ireland, year round, as well as other hearty root vegetables. Kind of reminds me of Massachusetts, where summer vegetables don’t really appear at the farmers’ markets until June or even July, at least in my part of the state. 

The Kalbos Cafe soup
When I ordered the soup (the special of the day) I expected something bland and comforting, but what I hadn’t expected was an intense red blast of color. As you might guess, the “body” of the soup come from the carrots, but the color comes from beets (or beetroot, as they call it there--I had to ask). Both are root vegetables with a fairly high sugar content. Roast them and they caramelize a bit, adding a sweet element to the soup, and a deeper flavor.

I’ll confess, I looked for recipes online, but they all looked like ordinary carrot soup—orange. None had this wonderful rich red color. Let me add that the dominant flavor is carrot, not beet (as a child I used to gag at the taste of beets, so I’m still wary of them).

At the café it was served simply, with a piece of brown bread and some butter. If you want to dress it up, you could add a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of dill or another herb. Also note that this is vegan—all vegetable, unless you want to use chicken stock. It’s simple, healthy and tasty—what more could you ask?

Roasted Carrot Soup


1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 lb beets, peeled and cut into chunks
1 medium onion, thickly sliced
2 Tblsp good olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a bowl, toss the carrots, beets and onion with the olive oil, then spread them in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. 

Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times (so they don’t stick), until they are tender and beginning to brown around the edges.

4 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place the cooked vegetables in a large saucepan. Add the stock, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until all the vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes).

Bought this at a yard sale across the street
for $3. I've used it a lot.
Puree the soup in a blender or food processor (to whatever smoothness you desire), or use an immersion blender. Keep the soup warm in the pan, and season with the salt and pepper. (If it's too thick for you, add a bit more stock, or even water.)

Serve in deep bowls. If you want to dress it up, add a dollop of crème fraiche and maybe a sprig of dill. Serve immediately. (This recipe makes about four servings.)

My nod to the Fourth of July: it's
red, white and blue!

Note: in winter you can add other vegetables as well—butternut squash, parsnips, sweet potato—to make it a heartier soup. You can also spice it up with a dash of pepper sauce or chile powder—it’s a very versatile recipe!

My feeble effort to add an Irish design

I'll stop rambling on about all things Irish soon, I promise. I am working on other books, really--the next Irish one (still nameless), another Orchard mystery, another Relatively Dead story, a short story or two...


  1. Brilliant idea to mix carrots and beets for that fiery sunset color. I'm a fan of borscht and carrot soup so this is going to be a treat to make. Thank you, Sheila, and I always love hearing about your Irish adventures and the research that fuels your writing. Cheers!

    ~ Cleo

  2. Please don't stop rambling about all things Irish! You are making me want to visit Ireland so much! I love your books that describe Ireland so richly! Thanks!

    1. Happy to oblige! And I'm so glad the food there keeps getting better. People were telling me that West Cork has become a foodie haven--I agree!

  3. I couldn't get this site to accept my comment yesterday.
    I put them on your FaceBook page.