RECIPE: A Parmesan rind is the secret to carrot soup on chilly spring evenings

Carrot Soup with Mint
Chris Hunt for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Carrot Soup with Mint Chris Hunt for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

There is a meme about Atlanta’s weather that floats around social media this time of year. It lists 12 “seasons” — winter, “fool’s spring,” “second winter,” “spring of deception,” “third winter” and “the pollening,” among others. An arrow points to wherever we’re experiencing on that given day. Indeed, it’s hard to predict when warm weather is here to stay, even when it seems like winter is far behind us.

For those days that seem to dip into “third winter,” I like to blend together a warm soup that’s packed with spring vegetables and topped with tangy yogurt and fresh mint. It still feels springlike, even if I need the extra coziness offered by a hot meal come dinnertime.

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This vegetarian soup works equally well with farmers market varieties of carrots and store-bought bagged ones (just make sure they’re all the same color). The secret is umami-rich Parmesan rind that simmers in the pot with the vegetables to bring depth to an otherwise simple recipe. I keep a bag of leftover rinds in my freezer for soups like these. If you don’t have a stash, use high-quality vegetable stock instead of the water or cut off the rind from a new block of cheese.

Carrot Soup with Mint 
Chris Hunt for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Carrot Soup with Mint Chris Hunt for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

Carrot Soup with Mint
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag frozen chopped onions (no need to thaw)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt
  • 1 pound carrots, washed, scrubbed, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (no need to peel)
  • 4 cups water, plus more if desired
  • 1 (2- to 3-inch) piece Parmesan rind
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, divided
  • On the side: Crusty bread and butter
  • Combine the onions, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and a generous pinch of salt in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once the onions begin to sizzle, add the carrots and another generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion liquid is mostly evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the water and Parmesan rind. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a rapid simmer until the carrots are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Once the carrots are tender, remove the Parmesan rind. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. (Alternatively, puree the soup in batches in a traditional blender. Be sure not to fill the blender more than one-third full. Transfer to a large bowl once pureed.) Add additional water, 1/4 cup at a time, to thin the soup, if desired. Season to taste with salt.
  • Once the carrots are tender, remove the Parmesan rind. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. (Alternatively, puree the soup in batches in a traditional blender. Be sure not to fill the blender more than one-third full. Transfer to a large bowl once pureed.) Add additional water, 1/4 cup at a time, to thin the soup, if desired. Season to taste with salt.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 162 calories (percent of calories from fat, 46), 4 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 9 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 5 milligrams cholesterol, 1,099 milligrams sodium.
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