Roast Carrot Soup with Pancetta Croutons

  • 700g carrots, cut into batons
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, skin on
  • few thyme sprigs, plus extra to garnish
  • small knob of butter
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 700ml chicken stock, made up with 1 cube
  • 6 tbsp double cream

For the croutons

  • 6 slices pancetta
  • 2 thick slices rustic bread, cut into soldiers (we used sourdough)
  • drizzle olive oil
  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put the carrots, half the oil, the garlic and thyme in a roasting tin. Season and toss everything together. Pop in the oven and roast for 45-50 mins, or until tender and beginning to turn golden.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil and butter in a large saucepan. Tip in the onions and cook over a low heat for 10 mins until soft. When the carrots are done, remove from the oven. Squeeze the soft roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and pop in the saucepan. Tip in the carrots and discard any woody thyme stalks. Pour over the stock, bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins.
  3. 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 mins until the pancetta and bread edges are crisp. Drain on kitchen paper.
  4. While the croutons are cooking, blitz the soup with a hand blender, then sieve into a clean saucepan, pressing to get as much liquid through as possible. Add 5 tbsp of the cream, heat through and season. Adjust the thickness with a little water, if you like. You can chill the soup for up to 1 day at this point, or freeze for 2 months. Reheat before serving. Serve drizzled with the remaining cream and garnished with thyme, with the croutons.

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