At the wake of dawn, I peeped out the window to catch a glimpse of the sunrise and the sun was well, no where to be found. He hid behind the dark gloomy clouds that were wandering all over the sky. As I yawned and rubbed my sleepy eyes to get a clearer picture, I realized it wasn’t my eyes that were blurry, it was thick fog everywhere and mix of rain, sleet and snow was drenching everything in sight. Even without stepping out, I could feel how chilly it was! The much talked about snow blizzard had arrived sooner than expected. It snowed most of the day and continued so until the wee hours of next morning blanketing it’s sheer white magnificence all over. Luckily, we had around 8 inches of snow and were so better off than parts of New England. That morning, the radiant sun showed up casting it’s rays which bounced off the blanket of snow and made the day much brighter!
Although the day seemed to be bright and warm it was quite chilly and hence the right time for some warm, comforting soup! I made this lovely soup last weekend but couldn’t get around posting it sooner. The combination of tomatoes and carrots makes this soup super delectable. The mild tang from the tomatoes and the sweetness from the carrots makes the soup a nice blend of tastes. I used few of my favorite spices – cinnamon stick, bay leaves and anise star to spice up the soup. I also added mint leaves to give the soup a nice earthy freshness. The spices and the mint further enhanced the flavors and gave the soup a beautiful aroma.
I also made basil-herbed croutons to go with the soup. The croutons are really easy to make. All you need is a baguette (preferably) or other regular bread, dried basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. Coat the bread cubes well and pop them into the oven. The resulting croutons are nice, brown, crispy and super flavorful. You could use these croutons in other varieties of soup as well as in salads.
Serve this delicious and comforting soup with some croutons and some bread on the side. Add a pinch of freshly ground pepper and garnish with mint leaves just before serving!
For the soup,
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
- Tomatoes – 4 – medium-sized
- Carrots – 4
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
- Red Chilli powder/Paprika – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1n1/2 tsp
- Oil – 2 tsps
- Garlic cloves – 2
- Cloves – 3
- Bay leaf – 1
- Cinnamon stick – 1
- Anise star – 1
- Onions – 1/4th cup – very finely diced
- Pepper (freshly ground) – 2 tsps
- Mint leaves – a handful
1. In a sauce pan, take around 6 cups of water. Wash the tomatoes and carrots thoroughly under running water. Dice the tomatoes into chunks, peel the carrots and cut them into medium-sized sticks. Add the tomatoes and carrots to the sauce pan and bring to a boil.
2. Remove from stove and let cool down a little. Using a strainer, scoop out the tomatoes and carrots and add to the blender. Save the remaining water from the sauce pan in another bowl. Blend into a smooth puree.
3. Add turmeric, red chilli powder and salt to the blender. If the puree is very thick, add about 1/4th cup of the water (that we set aside previously) and blend again just so that the spices are blended into the puree.
4. In the mean while, use the same sauce pan. Turn on the stove and heat 2 tsps of oil. Add cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and anise star. Saute for a minute or two. Then grate the garlic cloves into it. Then, add finely diced onions into the sauce pan. Saute for a few minutes until the onions are lightly brown.
5. Empty the puree into the sauce pan. Add one tsp of freshly ground pepper. Simmer and bring to a boil. Give a taste test and adjust salt if needed. Add a fistful of roughly chopped mint leaves and further simmer for a couple of minutes.
Ladle the soup into bowls, add croutons, garnish with mint leaves and sprinkle some freshly ground pepper. Serve as is or along side some bread!
For the Croutons,
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
- Baguette – 1 or as needed
- Olive Oil – 2 or 3 tsps
- Dried Basil – 1n1/2 tsp
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
- Pepper (freshly ground) – 3/4th tsp
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 deg F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
2. Cut the baguette into small cubes and place them on the baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil, dried basil, salt and pepper and toss them around so that all the cubes are nicely coated.
3. Place into the oven and let bake for around 15 mins. Remove, toss them around and further bake for 5 minutes until they are nice, crispy and golden brown.
Serve with soups and/or salads! They add a nice chunky element to the soups and a nice crunchy element to the salads!
- Based on your oven temperature variations, you could reduce it to 325 deg F or bake them for only 15 minutes.
- You could always store baked croutons in freezer bags and freeze them. They should be good for at-least 2 weeks.
- Instead of a baguette, you could definitely use regular bread but I find that a baguette gives better croutons in texture and flavor.
- Mint has a strong flavor, so don’t add more than needed.