Smoky Cumin and Chipotle Carrot Soup

Written by Eydie Desser

I met an incredibly amazing, kind and brilliant chef from NYC–Lior Lev Sercarz, at his spice store called La’ Boite.  It’s an incredible spice store with spices curated from around the world.  I was asked to host a fundraiser Chef Lior is involved in to raise money to build the first ever Culinary school in the Middle East!  This school will be located in the Galilee, in Northern Israel, along with an agricultural center.  It is sure to bring loads of visitors and students.   Chef Lior is a Master of spice and has written a book about it called, “Mastering Spice.”  I highly recommend purchasing this book, along with his “The Spice Companion” cookbook.  Using spices will not only elevate the flavor of your dishes, they’ll elevate your health as well.  Spices are filled with antioxidants and other health promoting properties! So use them generously.

I made this delicious carrot soup for the fundraiser, of course taking out the oil and salt with no detriment to the taste.  You will love Chef Lior’s use of spices here.


Spice Blend:

  • 1-¼ tsp. Cumin Seeds (4 g)
  • 1 tsp. Pink pepper (2 g)
  • ⅛ tsp. Chipotle Chile powder (¼g)
  • ¾ tsp. Smoked sweet paprika (2g)

Finely grind the cumin and pink pepper together in a spice grinder and then mix with the chipotle powder and smoked paprika.


  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled, smashed and minced
  • 2 large yellow onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 9 medium carrots, scrubbed, halved lengthwise and sliced into ¼” pieces
  • 2 large celery stalks, halved lengthwise and sliced into ¼” pieces
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice from about 2 oranges.  I use Valencia oranges.
  • 2 cups water, or more depending on how thin you want the soup (If you want to turn this into a sauce for pasta or vegetables, add just 1 cup of water, and blend to thick consistency.
  • Juice of 1/2 lime or more, to taste


1- Place a 5 qt. saucepan, or Dutch oven over medium high heat for about 1 minute, or until a piece of onion placed in the pot, sizzles.  Add the rest of the sliced onion into the heated pot and quickly dry saute, stirring for 30 seconds. Lower heat to medium low and add spice mixture to the onions, stirring to combine and the spices become very fragrant, about 30 seconds more.  

2- Add garlic and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 1 minute.  Turn the heat down to low, cover the pot, which allows the onions to sweat and give off their natural oils.  Let cook, covered for about 2 minutes. Lift the cover and give the mixture a stir, replace cover and continue to cook the onion mixture until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes total.  Be sure to lift the cover every couple of minutes or so, to stir and scrape up any fond (brown bits) on the bottom of the pot.

3- Add carrots and celery and stir well to coat with the spices.  Cover and cook, stirring and scraping occasionally, to soften the carrots and infuse them with flavor, about 8 minutes.

4- Add 2-cups of water and orange juice, stir well, and over medium high heat, bring the the liquid to a simmer.  Then lower the heat to medium, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are cooked through but still retain a bit of resistance when pierced with a knife so as to retain their fresh flavor, about 20 minutes.

5- Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth, working in batches if needed and adding more water if you prefer a thinner soup.

6- Transfer soup to a terrine or other serving piece.  Stir in lime juice, adding more if needed.

To Serve:

This soup can be served as a delicious “shooter” as an hors d’oeuvre, in a small bowl as a first course, or a large bowl for an entree.  It is so warming and sure to please you and your guests!

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