Carrot Soup with Pea Pesto


Spring vegetables really shine in this creamy soup.

Carrot Soup with Pea Pesto
Photo: Johnny Autry; Food and Prop Styling: Charlotte L. Autry
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
55 mins

Soup isn't just for the winter months. When the weather is warm, there can be nothing more refreshing than a bright, vibrant soup, laced with plenty of spring vegetables. Our Carrot Soup with Pea Pesto is versatile enough to serve as a starter for an al fresco dinner party or a simple, yet elegant spring supper. A swirl of pesto and heavy whipping cream turn the top of this soup into a true work of art. Complex and so satisfying, this soup will be on repeat all spring long.

Roasted carrots and garlic form the base for this bright orange soup, fortified by vegetable stock and warmed with spices like cloves and cumin. Allowing the carrots to brown and near the point of charring adds a delightful bitterness that you can't achieve any other way. This vegetarian soup is brightened up at the end with sherry vinegar for acid, maple syrup for sweetness, and cream and butter for a touch of richness.

While the soup is full of dynamic flavor on its own, we wanted to turn it into something truly special by adding a dollop of homemade pea pesto on top. The sweet peas and the nutty Parmesan create an utterly unique pesto. If your carrots come with carrot tops, use 1 cup of packed carrot tops (woody stems removed) and blend them in with the pesto. The pesto makes two cups, so you will have a good bit leftover; it would be great on pasta, toast with cheese, pizza, eggs, so many things. Put in a jar and save for up to a week or freeze for a later use.


  • 2 ½ pounds large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 medium-size sweet onion, cut into wedges

  • ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 3 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 7 garlic cloves, divided

  • 3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, coarsely chopped into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen English peas

  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves  

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)1

  • 5 cups vegetable stock, divided

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes

  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided 


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss together carrots, onion, 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 5 of the garlic cloves on a large rimmed baking sheet, and spread out evenly. Roast until vegetables are very tender and starting to brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; cool 5 minutes.

  2. While vegetables roast, place cheese, peas, basil, ¼ cup water, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and remaining ½ cup oil and 2 garlic cloves in a blender. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a small bowl; set aside. Rinse blender, and wipe dry.

  3. Add cooled vegetable mixture and 3 cups of the stock to blender. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed, about 2 minutes. (If needed, process in batches.) Transfer to a large saucepan.

  4. Stir cumin, cayenne, and remaining 2 cups stock and 1 ½ teaspoons salt into carrot mixture in saucepan. Cover; bring mixture to a simmer over medium, stirring occasionally to prevent bottom from scorching (this will take about 10 minutes). Remove from heat. Add butter, vinegar, maple syrup, and ¾ cup of the cream; stir until butter is melted. Ladle soup into 6 bowls. Top each with 1 tablespoon pesto, and 2 teaspoons cream. (Reserve remaining pesto for another use.)

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