This is very easy to make and delicious cold or hot. Cumin and carrots are a natural pairing and this recipe is beautifully balanced.
1 potato, medium, white or yellow
1 can chicken broth, low-salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (see note)
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
½ cup carrot juice (optional)
2-4 tablespoons cream
If using cumin seed, place in a heavy stock pot and toast in the dry pan over medium-high heat until fragrant, shaking frequently to prevent burning. Watch carefully once the seeds begin to darken or fragrance begins to rise, as the seeds burn very quickly. Allow to cool and grind seeds in spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
Peel carrots and onions. You can leave the potato unpeeled. Cut vegetables into chunks, about 1-2 inches. Add to pot with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and cook until the vegetables soften slightly and onions begin to become transparent. Do not brown. Meanwhile, peel and finely chop garlic. Add garlic to pan and cook for a few minutes more. Add all ingredients and bring to boil. Allow to simmer about 25 minutes, until all vegetables have softened. Do not overcook. They need to be mashable but if you cook too long, the flavors will dull.
Use a hand blender, food processor, or blender to blend until smooth (but leave some texture). Stir in cream. Add water if it's too thick and add salt (probably about 1/2 teaspoon) if necessary. Add a splash of fresh carrot juice for a bright, fresh flavor.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with minced chive and a sprig of parsley.
Note: You can use ground cumin instead of seeds, but freshly toasted and ground seeds add a great deal more flavor.
Also see: Cooking Without Recipes: Carrot Soup Case Study, which describes the recipe development for carrot soup.