What: Creamy Carrot Soup
Where: Family Table
Who: Shaye Elliott
This diminutive recipe glorifies the humble carrot. The flavors do unfold gently on the tongue, so do not expect a wow-factor. It is first fresh and delicate, then sweet and buttery, then slightly savory with a subtle nod to the onion and fresh thyme. Expect simplicity. Train your tongue to really taste the subtle layers. The soup is best eaten as its own feature, simply garnished. But if you need to pair it with something, choose a fish or a salad. Heavy meats and strong flavors will overpower this delicate soup.
This recipe was first published (with minor differences) by Alice Waters in her beautiful cookbook, The Art of Simple Food. Though I prefer Elliott’s method of preparation, Waters gives wonderful recommendations for variation…crème fraîche, or chives, or tarragon, or yogurt and basmati, or jalepeño and cilantro, or fried cumin seeds. I’ve done almost all of these ideas, and they are stellar. To the basic recipe, I very much recommend adding fresh or dried tarragon. Tarragon is a sweet herb which pairs beautifully with carrots. In this most recent preparation, I garnished the soup with toasted sesame seeds and fresh parsley, as Elliott suggests.
The key to this soup is to not overcook the carrots. They must be vibrant orange and only just-tender when you puree it. Elliott calls for using a hand blender, but the soup does not not become smooth enough for me. I opt to blend it all in the Vitamix for a wonderfully creamy result. I used my Lodge 6-Quart Enameled Dutch Oven for cooking the soup.