Golden, sweet and creamy, this mango carrot soup is full of umami from an unexpected ingredient — ‘ikan bilis’!

·5-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — At the end of a long and busy work week, we need a little joie de vivre, a little something special to bring a spring back to our step.

After days of eating the same takeaway meals near the office or home, it’s time to pull up the sleeves and have some fun in the kitchen again. What shall we make this weekend?

How about something golden, as bright as the cheeriest sun? Something sweet, not tooth-achingly saccharine, but naturally sweet, full of the goodness of life.

Above all, let’s have something creamy — no more rough edges and sharp corners, please; there has been enough of that already, threatening to make us crack when we least expect it.

This, then, might be the perfect balm for the weary soul: a refreshing mango carrot soup — golden, sweet and creamy in equal measure — that will delight even the most jaded of palates!

What’s not to like? Ripe mangoes with their wholesome sweetness; vibrant orange hue from healthful carrots and a subtle hint of turmeric powder.

Ripe mangoes are a must to ensure full sweetness.
Ripe mangoes are a must to ensure full sweetness.

Ripe mangoes are a must to ensure full sweetness.

Instead of chicken or vegetable broth, we shall use stock made from ikan bilis for extra umami. That’s the secret, really — an unexpected ingredient offering another layer of flavour.

Aromatics are provided by the heady trinity of garlic, rosemary and dried chillies. And for a creamy finish, a generous dollop of Greek yoghurt does the trick.

So while the combination of mangoes and carrot might sound strange at first, what we’re really seeking here is a nutritious and nourishing base for our recipe. That it tastes heavenly, well, that’s just a nice bonus!

MANGO CARROT SOUP

Given that the two key ingredients are mangoes and carrots, you’d want to use the freshest ones you can find. In the case of mangoes, freshest doesn’t mean too fresh that you’re dealing with green, unripe ones.

The vibrant orange hue comes from the carrots and turmeric powder.
The vibrant orange hue comes from the carrots and turmeric powder.

The vibrant orange hue comes from the carrots and turmeric powder.

What you want are ripe mangoes that are at their peak sweetness but not so overly ripe that they have started to become fibrous (which will add a coarse texture when you blend them). The natural sweetness is important here because we won’t add any sugar or other sweeteners in this recipe.

As with all recipes, however, taste at the end of the cooking process when you’re seasoning with salt and pepper. If it’s truly not sweet enough, you might want to drizzle a little runny honey, mix well and taste again.

You can make ikan bilis stock from commercial anchovy bouillon cubes. Just mix the dehydrated flavour cubes with the appropriate amount of hot water for a quick and easy broth.

However, there’s nothing like making your own ikan bilis stock and it’s quite simple too. Just rinse 100 grams of ikan bilis, then add to a pot filled with 2 litres of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the stock to remove the used ikan bilis. Allow the stock to cool and reserve to use later.

Instead of chicken or vegetable broth, use stock made from 'ikan bilis' for extra umami.
Instead of chicken or vegetable broth, use stock made from 'ikan bilis' for extra umami.

Instead of chicken or vegetable broth, use stock made from 'ikan bilis' for extra umami.

The aromatics are also key here for they help prevent the soup from becoming cloyingly sweet and one-dimensional. Adjust the amount of dried chillies if you prefer less heat.

The garlic, on the other hand, won’t be as strong as you might imagine, given they are roasted. This makes them less pungent and more caramelised, almost smoky in flavour. So don’t fear using the amount listed in this recipe!

Ingredients

4-6 medium-sized carrots

6-8 cloves of garlic, unpeeled

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves/needles removed from the stem

3-4 dried chillies

2 large mangoes, ripe

1 litre ikan bilis stock

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

1-2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Peel the carrots and slice into thick wedges. Add to a baking tray along with the unpeeled cloves of garlic.

Drizzle with the olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Toss well so that everything is coated.

Roast until the carrots are tender and slightly caramelised, about 30 minutes. Make sure to turn the carrots and garlic halfway so that everything roasts evenly without burning.

When the carrots and garlic have finished roasting, remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Heat a little olive oil in a pan, just enough to coat the surface. Gently fry the rosemary and dried chillies over medium heat, just enough to bring out their aromatic oils — you can tell this once they become very fragrant. Remove from the heat.

Aromatics are provided by the heady trinity of garlic, rosemary and dried chillies.
Aromatics are provided by the heady trinity of garlic, rosemary and dried chillies.

Aromatics are provided by the heady trinity of garlic, rosemary and dried chillies.

Cut the mangoes into half, following the path of the stone. Score each half crosswise into squares, then slice off the cubes of mangoes.

Add the cooled carrot wedges, rosemary, dried chillies and mango cubes to a food processor. Squeeze the cloves of now soft roasted garlic from their skins; these should come out easily and fall straight into the food processor.

Purée these ingredients till smooth; there should be no visible chunks. Transfer the mango-carrot purée to a large pot. Add the ikan bilis stock and turmeric powder. Stir well to combine.

Warm the soup over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the surface of the soup begins to simmer, add the Greek yoghurt. Stir it in till the yoghurt has blended with the soup with no visible white streaks.

For a creamy finish, a generous dollop of Greek yoghurt does the trick.
For a creamy finish, a generous dollop of Greek yoghurt does the trick.

For a creamy finish, a generous dollop of Greek yoghurt does the trick.

Turn off the heat and taste the soup, seasoning with more salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle into individual bowls.

Top with lightly toasted croutons and garnish with chopped parsley or mint, if desired, and serve immediately.

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