Carrot Soup With Kalamata Olive Paste

  • by XpatAthens
  • Friday, 20 February 2015
Carrot Soup With Kalamata Olive Paste

On a chilly Sunday in Athens, still worn out from a marathon of holiday cooking, and too spent to have gone to the supermarket with the Saturday crowds, I cooked with what was left in the fridge. That turned out to be a bunch of carrots, a little ginger, a dollop of the only Kalamata olive paste I’ve found that doesn’t numb your tongue with saltiness, and a Greek salad for the winter table, that came straight from a jar.

The olive paste and the Greek salad are new discoveries; Peloponnese makes them. I found them at the Hellenic Gourmet Shop at the Athens airport. I do have a few other specialty foods that are always on hand, one of which is my all-time favorite vinegar, which is so good you can drink it. Vassilis Vaimakis makes it in Ioannina and you can find it at a few select gourmet shops in Athens, among them the Pantopoleion.

10 carrots
1 one-inch knob of ginger
1 large red onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
1 heaping teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
6 – 8 cups water
1/3 cup rice
Salt to taste
2 – 3 tablespoons sweet Greek vinegar or good balsamic
A few drops of Habanero or Chipotle Tabasco (to taste)
6 teaspoons Kalamata olive paste, preferably from Peloponnese, because it isn’t too salty
Olive oil for garnish
One jar of Greek salad in a jar (I used Peloponnese, again because it was flavorful without being salty)
Pinch of dried Greek oregano

1. Peel and chop the carrots and ginger and chop the onions and garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large, wide pot and add the carrots, ginger, onions, and garlic. Cover the pot, keep the heat on low, and let the vegetables cook without water for a few minutes, steaming in their own moisture. Stir in the spices and toss all together for a minute.

2. Add the water to the pot. Add the rice. Season with salt. Cover, raise heat to bring the soup to a boil then lower it again, simmer for about 45 minutes, or until all the vegetables are extremely soft.

3. Use an immersion blender or empty the soup into the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth. Return to the pot if using a food processor. Adjust the consistency with a little water and adjust the spices to taste. Reheat for a few minutes, and add enough vinegar to balance the soup. Stir in the hot sauce, if using.

4. Serve the soup in individual bowls, spooning in a little of the olive paste and drizzling in Greek extra virgin olive oil. Drain the Greek salad and place in a small bowl. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and a little oregano over it, and Voila, lunch is ready.

By Diane Kochilas