Carrot Soup with Honey Chile Swirl

October 17th, 2011 | Nutrition and Health

As someone who loves to cook lavish and flavorful food, I’m often faced with the following challenge: my desire to experiment is MUCH larger than my weekly grocery budget. Consequently, I’m always on the hunt for recipes that have what I affectionately refer to as “the trifecta”: a fun presentation, interesting spices, and a big bang for your buck.

Some parts of the US and Europe are experiencing very warm Octobers thus far, but here in Rhode Island, it has been cool and wet. Even today, despite a reprieve of sunshine, I feel like my bones have already internalized the seasonal chill, and I’m craving both sweaters and soup. And for the record, let me say that I think soup gets a poor reputation as a main course dish, especially when it comes to serving a meal for guests. In fact, many soups can stand beautifully on their own (well, if propped up a bit by a crusty piece of bread), and are greatly underestimated by the label “starter course.”

The following soup recipe is one of my favorites for this time of year because it incorporates beautiful reds and oranges, has the magically ability to warm one’s body and mood simultaneously, and capitalizes on many items I tend to have laying around the kitchen. Somehow, every time I think about making this dish, I surprise myself by finding everything I need: a bag of carrots at the base of my veggie drawer, exactly one lone potato or onion, a couple bags of peanuts from a recent flight, and one stub of fresh ginger. I wish you as much luck if this recipe looks tasty to you!

Carrot Soup with Honey Chile Swirl

Serves 6. Total prep and cooking time = 1hr

Ingredients for the Honey Chile Swirl:

1/2 stick butter

2 tsp Mexican chile powder (or any kind of dried chili source)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (or cumin seeds)

1/4 teaspoon salt

A couple shakes of garlic powder and onion power, if you happen to have them

2 tsp honey

Ingredients for the Soup:

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick butter)

1.5 pounds carrots (actually, I’ve made this with 2lbs of acorn squash or pumpkin and both are yummy substitutes)

1 large white or yellow onion

1 medium-sized white potato (if you have it— if not, leave it out)

A 4” piece of fresh ginger (usually about the length from your thumb tip to your wrist)

5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you prefer)

A handful or 2 of roasted peanuts


Firstly, get out a cutting board, your favorite knife, a big pot and some type of stirring spoon. Essentially, you’ll be chopping the fresh ingredients one by one and adding them to the hot cooking pot as you go.

  1. Turn the stovetop to medium heat and melt the butter into the big pan.
  2. Meanwhile, coarsely chop your onions and then add them to the butter. (Chill the onion and keep the exposed cuts away from you and facing the cutting board to reduce tears.) Give the onions a good stir to coat them with the butter.
  3. Slice the carrots into rounds 1/4-1/2” thick, chop the potato into bite-size pieces, peel/mince the ginger and add each to the pot as they’re ready. As for the chopping, I’m never too exact about these things — life is too short to get one’s measuring tape out!
  4. After you’ve added the final chopped ingredient, continue cooking everything for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken or vegetable broth and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice throughout this process.
  6. Remove the soup from the heat and let it cool slightly.
  7. While the soup is cooling, make the chile swirl! Heat a small pan (medium heat) and add the butter. While the butter is melting, stir in the various dry spices. This should just take a minute.
  8. Once everything is combined, stir in the honey. Turn off the heat and just let the butter mixture sit in the pan until the soup is ready to be served.
  9. By now your soup should be somewhat cooled, so you’ll be able to blend it without getting burned. Add the soup to a blender (depending on the size of your blender, you may have to do this in 2-3 batches) and puree until smooth. If your kitchen is sans-blender, as mine has been for most of my adult life, here’s a trick. Albeit a bit unglamorous, this works almost as well: add the soup to a large zip-locked plastic freezer bag (you may want to double bag if the soup is still pretty hot), and pound on the cooked veggies with your fists until they’re mushy and soup-like. Alternatively, you could smash the soup against the sides of the pot with a potato masher or meat tenderizer just to get some of the veggie lumps out. Actually, if you’re in a frustrated mood for any reason, this is a great stress relieving activity!
  10. When you’re done blending, add the soup back to the cooking pot and reheat.
  11. Pour the soup into serving bowls (should make about 6 servings), and spoon a few teaspoons of the chile butter garnish on top — in a swirl pattern (or polka-dots if that’s more your style).
  12. Sprinkle with the peanuts and serve.

Bon appetite and congratulations! You’ve just served up a well-rounded meal with a whopping 368% of Vitamin A, 101% of Vitamin C, 60% dietary fiber, 11% iron and 8g of protein*! Plus, this whole indulgent feast has only 285 calories.

What’s even better is that this meal is jam-packed with nutrients that are great for healthy skin. Vitamin C is essential to the production of collagen, a protein that encourages the growth of new skin cells. By aiding in this process, vitamin C helps us quickly bounce back from blemishes, dryness and a bunch of other issues that tend to plague us as the weather gets chilly. Vitamin A also plays an important role in keeping our skin soft and fresh looking as the late fall winds threaten to steal our summer glows.

Hmmm… maybe it’s no accident that the orange veggies readily available to us in the fall (carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes) are the ones that give us the best defense against seasonal beauty concerns! And, what is a better way to spend a blustery October day than cooking with a loved one or sharing a hearty bowl of soup with a new friend. Try it!

If you enjoyed the recipe and skin advice in this article, we’d love for you to revisit the Aidance blog for more healthy recipes and fun seasonal cooking ideas.

* Percentages are based on your recommended daily consumption, according to a 2,000 calorie diet. Percentage values of each nutrient are totaled using info from

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