Friday, February 1, 2013

Carrot Soup

Carrot Soup
Even the “I hate vegetables” five year old might enjoy this soup. It’s a favorite light dinner here, with some good bread and cheese, or a wonderful first course for a good dinner.
2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter)
1 onion – coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded, cored, and minced (optional)
1 ½ pounds (approximately 3 cups) peeled and sliced carrots (see note)
1 small sprig of fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
Salt to taste (I use ¾ teaspoon)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 cups chicken broth (again, see note)
In a heavy bottomed pot, heat oil, or melt butter, and over medium-low heat sauté onions for about 5 minutes. Add jalapeno, thyme, salt, and pepper, and then the carrots. Saute the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes to bring out the flavors.
Add Chicken broth, and bring the soup to boil, then lower heat to simmer. Cover and cook until the carrots are tender – about 30 minutes. Let cool a bit and then purée, and adjust seasonings.
1. Jalapenos: you may have noticed that Papa and I frequently use jalapenos in our savory dishes. Perhaps this comes from our roots in California, where we grew up enjoying a little heat in our food. Today I was out of jalapenos, so I used a pinch of ground cayenne. Often I will use the crushed red peppers you find a pizzarias. This heat is of course optional.
2. Parsnips with carrots: I usually add a couple of parsips to take the place of some of the carrots; they add a wonderful depth of flavor and sweetness. Both Papa and I grew up parsnipless – it was just not among our Mediterranean vegetables. But when we lived in England, we had dinner at a friend’s and roast lamb was served with roasted potatoes, carrots, and parsnips – and we’ve been fans ever since.
3. Chicken broth: When my freezer is out of homemade chicken broth, I use one 14.5 oz can of chicken broth and add enough water to make 3 cups liquid (I use the fat-free, MSG-free variety of canned broth).
4. Carrots: When they are affordable, we buy carrots with the tops on them – they are usually sweeter and fresher.