roasted carrot soup with fennel + lemon

I am blessed with one adventurous eating kid in our family (the other one is getting there, slowly). She hardly ever turns her nose up at anything and gives most things a try, more often that not coming back for more, and more. But somethings changed this year when it comes to school lunches. All of a sudden she doesn’t want to eat anything I’ve given her in the past, claiming it’s just not that nice after sitting in her lunchbox all morning. I fully understand. But that doesn’t mean to say I’m all that stoked about this new development! All the things she will happily eat for lunch at home are off limits when it comes to school. She just won’t eat them. I know part of the cause is she’s just too keen to get lunch over and done with and get out in the playground with her friends, but mostly it’s just that she’s a little bit of a food snob and likes to eat things ‘freshly’ made! Oh what have I created here? 
The boy has his usual lunch fare, but the girl, well lets just say I’ve had to get rather creative with her lunches of late. The one thing she does still enjoy is a thermos of hot soup and a couple of slices of my gluten-free sourdough. Phew. The boy won’t touch soup, never has. So I’ve got into the habit of roasting up huge tray-fuls of root vegetables whenever the oven is going, blending them down with some stock and then freezing them in single 8-year-old-girl-portions. It’s then super easy to whack one in a saucepan whilst preparing breakfast to defrost and warm through, pop it into her thermos and off we go. I just used the last container of roasted pumpkin soup (from my book!) this morning, so I thought I’d get onto stocking the freezer back up again in preparation for next week at school. I love roasted carrots and if you chuck a sweet potato or two into the mix things get all lovely and creamy, without having to actually add, cream. A little scattering of lemon zest and a zip of fennel seeds and you have yourself one lovely thick, creamy bowl of yum.

roasted carrot, fennel + lemon soup
I served this soup with some of my homemade gluten-free sourdough (recipe in my cookbook) and a sprinkling of lemon + fennel salt (see recipe below). 
Serves 3-4

1 kg carrots (approx. 5 large carrots), peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium orange sweet potato/kumara (approx 250g), peeled and roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and sliced into 8 wedges
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
the finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock, preferably homemade.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Combine all the ingredients, except the vegetable stock, on a large deep roasting tray. Mix well to evenly coat everything in oil/zest/fennel seeds. Roast for 30-35 minutes, turning every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning. When the carrot and sweet potato are soft, remove from the oven and transfer to a blender along with the vegetable stock. Blend on high until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Reheat gently in a large saucepan over low-medium heat. If you prefer a thinner soup simply add more stock, or a touch of water.

Leftovers will keep in the fridge 3-4 days or frozen for longer.

*I made a little flavoured salt to sprinkle over the top. To make this, lightly toast a couple of teaspoons of fennel seeds in a dry pan until fragrant. Give them a bit of a bash in a mortar and pestle, add about a tablespoon of finely grated lemon zest and a tablespoon of sea salt flakes. Store any leftovers in a small glass jar.

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  • Adele Chenoweth
    July 25, 2014 at 7:15 am

    This looks like a much better alternative to starting my uni assignment! haha Love a Friday night bake πŸ™‚
    P.S your book is getting a workout, even managed to get my dad to eat lentils (GASP!) in your daal

    • emma
      July 26, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      Stoked to hear you're cooking lots from my book! Yay for getting Dads to eat their lentils too πŸ™‚

  • Sini | my blue and white kitchen
    July 25, 2014 at 8:09 am

    This soup looks divine, but with temperatures rising above 30Β°C today (we're in the middle of a heatwave) I can't think of warm food right now πŸ˜€ However, I definitely need to remember this soup for the colder days!

    • emma
      July 26, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      Ah yes Sini, the joys of reading blogs from opposite ends of the world πŸ˜‰

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    July 25, 2014 at 11:48 am

    I haven't made carrot soup in so long!! I love this version!

    • emma
      July 26, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      The roasting is the trick, I reckon πŸ™‚

  • london bakes
    July 25, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    This soup sounds wonderful – rich and creamy without being too heavy. Perfect lunchtime eating.

    • emma
      July 26, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      It sure is! Thanks love xx

  • Dixya
    July 25, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    soup is always so comforting…this one looks divine.

    • emma
      July 26, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks Dixya! xx

  • Eha
    July 26, 2014 at 2:28 am

    Perfect: love carrot soups and have added sweet potato but not fennel seeds which methinks are going to make all the difference. Shall trial during the next few days – thanks πŸ™‚ !!

    • emma
      July 26, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      The fennel and lemon is subtle, but lovely πŸ™‚ Enjoy!

  • Cheryl
    July 26, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Made this soup today it was delicious!!!! Thanks for the recipe!!

    • emma
      July 26, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      Yay! So happy to hear you've cooked it already πŸ™‚ You're so welcome xx

  • InTolerant Chef
    July 27, 2014 at 2:30 am

    Delicious recipe indeed, the carrots would be so nice and sweet! My littlej is taking soup in her Thermos too, I'll certainly have to add this one into the rotation- yummo πŸ™‚

  • Thalia @ butter and brioche
    July 27, 2014 at 5:36 am

    now this is a seriously good looking soup.. love that you roasted the vegetables first – definitely kicks the flavour up a notch!

  • Mairi @ Toast
    July 28, 2014 at 1:22 am

    Hi Em, Perfect for the arctic weather we are getting here in Auckland at the moment, I have been pretty much living on soup so good to have a new one to try & I'm thinking I could become quite addicted to that fennel & lemon salt….it could go on all sorts πŸ™‚

  • cynthia
    July 28, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    I already wonder how I'm going to juggle my kids' tastes (not to mention dietary restrictions) — it seems so difficult, and yet you do it with such grace! This gorgeous soup looks like it would placate any picky palates … so comforting and hearty. I can't wait to make it when the weather cools down over here!

  • Mary Frances
    July 28, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    This soup sounds like the perfect pick me after a long day, thanks for sharing your recipe!

  • Amanda @ A Cookie Named Desire
    July 30, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Fortunately, my mini foodie is not that particular ….. yet. I know it is coming soon enough. I adore roasted carrot soup. It is one soup I make routinely (that and my spicy pumpkin soup) I am going to have to try out this recipe asap.

  • Anonymous
    September 17, 2015 at 1:22 am

    Would cumin seeds work in this recipe?

    • emma
      September 17, 2015 at 4:03 am

      I don't see why not!