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Roast Carrot Soup with Pancetta Croutons

This delicious soup, with its clever croutons, is just the ticket for lunch or a light supper, rich with deep and satisfying flavor, yet not overly filling. The ‘soldiers’ described in the recipe are nothing more than ‘sticks’ cut from slices of bread, perfect for dipping into the soup should one wish — and so much more poetic to boot!

Roast Carrot Soup with Pancetta Croutons

1 ½ lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into batons
2 tbs. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, skin left on
few thyme sprigs, plus extra to garnish
1 tbs. butter
2 small or 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups chicken stock
3-4 cups water
6 tbs. heavy cream, divided

For the croutons:

6 slices pancetta
2 thick slices rustic bread, cut into soldiers (we used sourdough)
drizzle olive oil

Heat the oven to 400°F. Put the carrots, half the oil, the garlic, and the thyme in a roasting tin. Season with salt and pepper and toss everything together. Pop in the oven and roast for 45-50 minutes, or until tender and beginning to turn golden.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil and butter in a large saucepan. Tip in the onions and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes until soft. When the carrots are done, remove from the oven. Squeeze the soft roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and pop into the saucepan. Tip in the carrots and discard any woody thyme stalks. Pour over the chicken stock and 3 cups of the water, bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

To make the croutons, wrap the pancetta around the soldiers, leaving the ends of the bread exposed. Put on a baking tray, drizzle with a little oil and grind over some black pepper. Bake for 10 minutes until the pancetta and bread edges are crisp. Drain on paper towels.

While the croutons are cooking, blitz the soup with a stick blender. Add 5 tbs. of the cream, heat through and season. Adjust the thickness with a little more water, if you like. Serve drizzled with the remaining cream and garnished with thyme, with the croutons on the side.

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