THE APPETIZER – Affinity of flavors

By Jeff Pitts

Ever wonder what Bugs Bunny orders when he hits the town on the hunt for vegan fare? If he’s going to Proof — the hip eatery equipped with a modern vibe in downtown’s gateway — Bugs likely has a hankering for Chef Sean Wilson’s Coffee Roasted Carrot Soup. Wilson routinely makes mouths water by mixing carrots and coffee for a vegetarian’s taste bud delight.

Carrot and coffee soup made by Proof Chef Sean Wilson.

Carrot and coffee soup made by Proof Chef Sean Wilson.

“I use coffee in a lot of different things,” says Wilson. “But I really like to use it as a flavorant with vegan and vegetarian dishes. Carrots have a nice undertone of sweetness along with just the right hint of bitter. The two together combine to make one fantastic soup.”

The excitement in Wilson’s voice is audible as he explains how he constructs his Coffee Roasted Carrot Soup — available by call ahead, special request, or occasionally it’s on Proof’s Second Saturday Supper Menu.

First, Wilson peels small- or medium-sized carrots and places them whole in a roasting pan along with coffee beans.

“I make sure to really bury the carrots in Ethiopian Harrar coffee beans from Zanzibar’s,” Wilson explains.

The chef prefers the mild roast with a light body and sweet undertones for his soup. He then roasts the beans and carrots together in olive oil with salt and pepper.

“The sugar from the carrots brings out the coffee’s flavor, which then mingles with the oil and inserts itself into the carrots,” he says.

When they’re done roasting, Wilson sets the carrots aside and starts mixing blood orange juice into a sauce pan together with carrot juice and just a little onion and shallot.

“I throw in a handful of coffee beans and let them all mingle and be happy while they simmer and steep,” says Wilson. “Then, while the juice is warming up, I cut the carrots into coins so they’ll be ready.”

After the juice mix is warmed, Wilson strains out everything except the liquid. He then arranges the coins of carrots in the center of a bowl along with the juice.

“Then I finish it with fruity olive oil and garnish with anise hysopp leaves and a couple of blossoms. You’ll have a really awesome dish with all these wonderful flavors each having an affinity for one another,” he says.

This soup is more popular in the summer, but even during winter it’s just what the doctor ordered — and Bugs, too. RELISH

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Categories: The Appetizer

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