The cross country ski season takes up most of the soup loving months (October through March), and due to my intense travel and racing schedule I unfortunately miss this soup prime time. Luckily April brings with it the occasional cool and rainy day, and I get to utilize my favorite (and most feared due to a less than ideal meeting of finger to blade a couple years back) kitchen power tool: the immersion blender.
Or rather, I got to watch as my boyfriend delighted in blending this beautifully hued and naturally sweet carrot soup to it’s perfectly thick consistency.
When it comes to recipe searching, I have three go-tos. The New York Times cooking site, Food 52, and the forever favorite Smitten Kitchen. Deb at Smitten Kitchen just seems to get my cravings. Whenever there’s something I can’t live without for dinner, I can trust she will have the perfect template to satisfy that craving.
So when I realized I had a jar of tahini and the weather was perfect for soups…her carrot soup with crispy chickpeas and a dollop of lemon tahini spread went immediately to the forefront of dinner options. Perfect almost as is, I added a little bit of turmeric (because, turmeric) along with the cumin and coriander. I subbed cilantro for parsley, and swapped the pita chips for chicken sausage (someday I might be able to go a dinner without a significant protein source, but as long as I’m training-or recovering from the season as is currently the case-I make sure I’m getting enough!).
Reheated the next day gently on the stove (with a little added vegetable broth to reach the desired consistency), this soup was the perfect lunch for two. The other reason I love Smitten Kitchen? For the most part her recipes serve exactly how many she says it will. This gave us four big bowls of soup, and has cemented itself in the dinner (and lunch) line up.
Carrot, Crispy Chickpea and Chicken Sausage Tahini Soup
Makes four big bowls, adapted barely from Smitten Kitchen. While this seems like a lot of separate moving parts, the whole thing is very simple and I had no problem getting all the steps done simultaneously with low to no stress (minus some smoking from frying the chicken sausage- make sure you have your fan going!)
For the soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds carrots, washed and chopped into thin discs
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves peeled and smashed (do this with the back of a knife!)
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon table salt, plus more if needed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
4 cups vegetable broth
For the chickpeas:
1 15-ounce (425-gram) can, drained, patted dry on paper towels
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
For the tahini dollop:
3 tablespoons tahini paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pinch or two of salt
2 tablespoons water
3 links pre-cooked Chicken sausage (your favorite brand- look for ones without added sugar!), cut into thin coins
Cilantro for serving
Make your soup. Heat olive oil in a large soup pan over medium heat, and add all the soup ingredients except the broth. Stirring occasionally, cook until carrots have just begun to soften and have barely browned in spots. This should take about 15 minutes. At this point add in your broth, scrape up any browned bits at the bottom, cover, and reduce heat so you get a low simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, until carrots have completely softened. At this point take out your immersion blender, and blend thoroughly. Keep over low heat for another 5-10 minutes.
Right as you begin making the soup, preheat your oven to 425 degrees for the chickpeas. Drain and pat the chickpeas dry, then toss with oil, salt, cumin, and turmeric. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for 20 minutes, shaking pan every 5 minutes or so. Keep an eye on these- you want them crispy but not burnt. It took me the full 20 minutes to get the right texture, but for some ovens I’ve heard it takes as little as 10. Remove from oven and let sit!
When the soup has been blended and is in its final sit, crisp the chicken sausages and make the tahini dollop.
For the tahini dollop, simply whisk all ingredients together until you get a nice thick sauce. This will take about a minute of vigorous whisking, but is completely worth it. If you like your dollop a little thinner, add a teensy bit of water at a time.
For the chicken sausage, heat a little olive oil in a cast iron (or other) pan over high heat. Once the oil is smoking, add in the sausages, flipping once after about one minute. Cook for one minute on the other side, then remove to a paper towel lined plate to remove any extra grease.
Fill big bowls (if you want to get extra fancy preheat your bowls in the cooling down but turned off oven from the chickpeas) with soup, and top with chickpeas, sausage, cilantro and a hefty dollop of tahini sauce. Enjoy!