Creamy Carrot Soup

Maybe it's because of the lack of sun during this time of year. Or maybe it's because of the draining holiday season. Whatever the reason, finding motivation to cook anything more than cold cereal has been a challenge. So, when we received our final CSA veggie box this week, I set my mind to stepping into my kitchen again.

To find my motivation, I decided to return to the basics. Simple ingredients, simple preparations, fabulous food. I also armed myself with a large list of recipes that make the most of our last harvest bounty. The first recipe on the list: Creamy Carrot Soup.

This carrot soup has a simple base of onions, garlic, and butter. The carrots and the base are then cooked in vegetable broth until soft. The finishing seasoning is just honey, salt, oil, and nuts. The most difficult part of the soup was peeling the 2.5 pounds of carrots!

I ended up using clarified butter in which to cook the onions and garlic. Clarified butter has a higher smoke point than regular butter because the milk solids (the stuff that burns and smokes easily) are removed. You can purchase clarified butter (sometimes also called ghee if browned a bit) or you can make it. It is surprisingly simple. Just melt some unsalted butter. The butter will naturally separate into three layers. The clarified part is the middle clear layer. Skim off the top foam and carefully pour the middle layer into a jar. Discard the third layer (milk solids). Clarified butter can be kept in the cupboard for a month or two, so you can make a lot in advance. 

For the vegetable broth, I used three bouillon cubes. I chose to use Rapunzel bouillon because it didn't have any salt added and the flavor is more subtle than other cubes I had on hand. I wanted the broth to enhance the flavor of the soup without overpowering the carrots. I also wanted to be in control of the salt I added. Sometimes broth can be overly salty, which is difficult to overcome.

The finishing seasoning has a lot of possibilities. I used ginger flavored sea salt, quality olive oil, and slivered almonds in my soup. If you have fancy flavored oil, this is the time to use it! I was actually quite surprised as to the difference a little oil drizzled on each serving made to the flavor of the soup. It was like the difference between plain toast and buttered toast. The slivered almonds added a nice change in texture and complemented the carrot flavor well. 

This soup makes a fantastic first course. Alternatively, you can serve it with a sandwich or a salad. It would make for a light lunch if eaten on its own.

Creamy Carrot Soup
6 servings, 90 minutes
from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson

2 1/2 pounds carrots
3 tablespoons clarified butter (or olive oil)
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
6 cups vegetable broth (I used 3 Rapunzel bouillon cubes)
2 tablespoons honey
salt to taste (I used 2 1/2 teaspoons ginger sea salt)
high quality oil for drizzling (1 teaspoon per serving)
Slivered almonds (no need to roast)
  1. Scrub or peel the carrots. Cut into smaller segments to decrease the cooking time. Try to cut the carrots all about the same size so they cook similarly. 
  2. Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened.
  3. Stir in the carrots and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender. 
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the honey. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.
  5. Add salt to taste. Top each serving with about 1 teaspoon oil and slivered almonds.

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