Carrot soup with cumin, cilantro, and red onion salsa

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Carrot soup with cumin, cilantro, and red onion salsa

I am happy to share with you part of a recent article from the Sacramento Business Journal. Kaiser adds healthy dose of fresh-food commerce by Kathy Robertson Staff Writer. Anthony Cantelmi, an internal medicine doctor at Kaiser's Roseville Medical Center, picked up onions, garlic, cherries and tomatoes during his lunch break. Linda White, a volunteer in the outpatient surgery center, bought a bag of cherries while she waited for a prescription. And Bonnie Woolf, a cancer patient who comes to the medical center for chemotherapy on Fridays, looked over the produce and dubbed the notion of an on-site farmers' market "cool." 

Kaiser Permanente launched its first Fresh Friday Market in the region June 2 in the courtyard of its growing Roseville Medical Center. Another market starts June 16 at the Sacramento Medical Center on Morse Avenue. Both are part of the company's popular employee-wellness program. The idea is to make it easy for Kaiser employees to pick up a weekly supply of fresh fruit and vegetables at work, but the markets also are open to patients and the community. 

Kaiser hosts more than 30 farmers' markets at medical centers in California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii and parts of the Northwest. The first market opened at Kaiser's Oakland Medical Center in May 2003. 

Michael Pollan (author of “The Botany of Desire” and “The Omnivore's Dilemma”) quotes a local California farmer who supplied all the food for one of the meals described in Pollan's latest book. The farmer pointed out that we would never be as careless about choosing the person who repairs our car as we are about choosing the people who grow our food. 

We entrust our food to a very opaque and complex system. Farmers' markets are part of an alternative to this, and if you buy fruits and vegetables in season, they are often less costly. 

This week's soup uses many fresh ingredients from the market. Be sure to buy carrots with the green tops still attached. Bagged carrots may have been in the bags for months. Unlike some carrot soups, this version has very bold flavors and can be a main course for dinner. While chopping all the ingredients makes it seem like "it takes a village to" make a soup, the village will like it.

Servings: 6 for appetizer or 4 for main course


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion or 4 medium leeks, thinly sliced
  • 2 bunches carrots (about 2 pounds), chopped
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seed, toasted in a skillet and ground
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 to 1/2 quarts chicken stock, plus additional if needed
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 limes, juiced
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salsa
  • 1/2 small red onion, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon seeded and minced jalapeño
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over low heat. 
  2. Add onion or leeks, season with a little salt and pepper. 
  3. Cover and sweat until soft, about 10 minutes. Add carrots, potato, ground cumin, ginger, salt and pepper. 
  4. Cover the pot and stew for another 10 minutes. By now, your kitchen will smell wonderful. 
  5. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and simmer until the carrots are tender. 
  6. Turn off the heat, add cilantro, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. 
  7. Purée in blender in batches, adding more stock if necessary to reach desired soup consistency. As you do this in batches, you need to transfer the puréed soup to another pot, otherwise you’ll keep adding all the nicely blenderized soup back with the chunks. 
  8. Adjust the seasoning and stir in lime juice just before serving. 
  9. Combine the red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper for the salsa. 
  10. Garnish the top of each bowl of soup with a little bit, artfully distributed. This is really good.