I can’t share this recipe for carrot and coriander soup without writing about Scotland and my family. This humble soup is one of the dishes for which I have the deepest nostalgia; my love for this soup is indelibly tied to my experience of a place, and how the relevance of something as simple as eating a bowl of soup on a chilly, remote island has evolved in significance over the years. So buckle up, it’s story time.
My family took a trip to Scotland and the Isle of Raasay when we lived in London in the late 1990s. Raasay boasts a population of fewer than 200 people but many sheep. It’s part of the Inner Hebrides, located between the Isle of Skye and mainland Scotland. This tiny island is remote and breathtaking.
During our stay at the iconic Raasay House Hotel, my family participated in a number of outdoor activities that I’m generally reluctant about, such as rock climbing and sailing. Let’s just say I’ve always been more of the après ski type. I chose to stay behind while my parents and brother scuttled onto a sailboat bobbing up and down like a cork between rocky waves on this particularly blustery day. Long story very short: they capsized into freezing water and had to be rescued by the power boat. Point: Chrissie.
I vividly remember everyone trying to warm up after the sailing debacle, wearing these thick, woolly navy blue sweaters with shoulder patches and sitting around a fire eating bowls of the most delicious carrot and coriander soup. This moment, being surrounded by this overwhelmingly wild place, stands out in my memory as absolutely perfect.
In college I decided to study abroad in Scotland and continued to fall in love with the country. It just stuck in my bones in a way that few other places have done. As I’m starting to mention a bit here and there, I’m adopted and don’t have any records of ancestry. I did DNA research this past year in the hopes of finding information about my background, and was amazed to learn Ancestry and 23andMe puts my British and Irish ancestry at 70%. It was so unexpectedly affirming to discover that the places I love most in the world (besides America) are where my ancestors came from, that it’s in my blood.
On to the soup. Carrot and coriander soup is a lightly seasoned, pureed carrot soup. But it isn’t quite baby-food smooth; there’s some texture to the puree so you don’t feel like you’re mistakenly eating a meal meant for your infant. While I often love pairing carrots with heavier spices, especially curry flavors, this is a wonderfully delicate dish. The seasoning is mellow, and it’s the the kind of early spring or fall soup that belongs with a hunk of bread and a piece of cheese.Print