It does seem like a lot of star anise, but the little stars are extracted before you blend, so just imbue the soup with a subtle spiciness rather than launch a full anise assault. If a good loaf of sourdough will fit into the backpack too, all the better.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 4 large carrots (about 750 g/1 lb 10 oz), peeled and chopped into chunky batons
- 2 Tbsp hazelnut oil, plus extra to drizzle
- 2 oz (50 g) blanched hazelnuts
- 2 Tbsp light-flavoured oil, such as sunflower or rapeseed [canola]
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 smallish sweet potato (about 150 g/5½oz), peeled and diced
- 1 litre [4¼ cups] vegetable stock
- 6 star anise
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 190°C fan (375°F) Gas 5. Put the carrots in a roasting pan and drizzle with the 2 Tbsp of hazelnut oil. Season with salt and pepper and stir so that the carrots are fully coated. Pop in the oven and roast for 30–40 minutes until the carrots are tender and browning, stirring halfway through.
- Meanwhile, tip the hazelnuts onto a baking sheet and roast, on the shelf under the carrots, for 5 minutes, until golden and smelling toasty. Let cool, then roughly chop them and set aside.
- While the carrots are cooking, start the soup. Heat the light oil in a large saucepan set over a low heat and sauté the onion for 8 minutes until starting to soften. Add the sweet potato and cook for another couple of minutes, then tip in the stock. Add the star anise and cover with a lid. Increase the heat to high until the liquid is boiling, then decrease it to medium and leave the soup to simmer, still covered, for about 15 minutes, or until the sweet potato and onion are completely tender. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Fish out the star anise from the soup and discard (or keep to decorate the bowls). Add the roasted carrots to the pan, then blend with a stick blender or transfer to a liquidizer and blend until smooth (you may need to do this in batches). Return the soup to a clean saucepan and season well with salt and pepper.
- Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and sprinkle the roasted hazelnuts over the top of each bowl. Finish with a good drizzle of hazelnut oil and a sprinkling of black pepper to serve. If you’re feeling fancy, you could pop one of the star anise on the top of each bowl to decorate as they are very pretty, but do warn people to leave those in the bowl and not bite into them!