You can certainly tell a book by its cover when you’re talking about carrots. The freshness of the carrot tops reveals the freshness of the carrots. Given the choice, I always choose carrots with their tops. But then I’d come home and throw them away. Very similar to my catering days when we would only use kale as a platter garnish, never thinking it was actually edible. If you’re like me, you would love to use those lacy tops in other than the compost pile. Think, Carrot Top Soup.
“Root to leaf”
Carrots are one of the most beautiful plants in our garden with their graceful green tops. It’s always a special treat to pull on them and unearth a carrot. Even more so this year as I planted an heirloom variety of yellow carrots.
Last week when we had a forecast of below freezing temperatures, I harvested all of our remaining carrots. But this time I had a plan for that mass of tops harvested with the carrots. We enjoyed a most satisfying “root to leaf” Carrot Top Soup.
“Non si tira niente”
This Tuscan saying translates as “nothing gets thrown away.” So not surprisingly there are a number of recipes online for a Tuscan Carrot Top Soup. Inspired by these recipes, I’ve developed an even healthier version with quinoa and a huge amount of the lacy carrot tops. Once in the soup the leaves quickly wilt and lose any trace of bitterness.
Besides Carrot Top Soup?
Let me know what other ways you use carrot tops. What other veggies, besides carrots and beets, do you use from root to leaf?
Vegan, Non-dairy, Gluten-free
Makes 8 cups
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, ¼” dice, about 2 cups
4 cups ¼-inch sliced carrots (unpeeled if organic)
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 large bay leaf
2 four-inch sprigs fresh thyme
1 ½ teaspoons salt
6 twists freshly ground pepper
½ cup quinoa, washed and drained
7 cups vegetable broth
4 cups loosely packed carrot top leaves with fine stems, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
Optional garnish: a spoonful of pesto in each bowl
Place the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. When hot stir in the diced onion. Cover the pot and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is transparent. Remove the lid and stir in the sliced carrots, garlic and herbs. Sprinkle with the salt and ground pepper. Cover the pot and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the carrot tops, parsley and scallion. Bring the soup back to a boil, then cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the soup sit for 5 minutes before uncovering. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Serve, garnished with an optional spoonful of pesto.
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