Creamy Carrot Soup

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 45 minutes

This classic French soup can be varied in several ways and can also be produced in a completely different fashion, as in the Glazed Carrot Soup and the Thai version at right.

Pure carrot soup is thick and smooth even without dairy or a substitute—which is why I’ve made those optional—but their addition produces a rich, filling, and delicious version. And you can follow the same technique with almost any root vegetable—turnips, potatoes, or celeriac, for example. The soup is especially flavorful with parsnips, which are sweet beyond belief.

3 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, sliced

1 pound carrots, roughly chopped

1 large starchy potato, peeled and roughly chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 cups vegetable stock or water

2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste (optional)

1/2 cup cream or sour cream (optional)

1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves for garnish

01 Put the butter or oil in a large, deep saucepan or casserole over medium heat. When the butter melts or the oil is hot, add the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the carrots soften a bit. Add the stock and cook until the vegetables are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

02 Use an immersion blender to purГ©e the soup in the pan. Or cool the mixture slightly (hot soup is dangerous), pass it through a food mill or pour it into a blender, and purГ©e carefully until smooth, working in batches if necessary. (You may prepare the soup in advance up to this point. Cover, refrigerate for up to 2 days, and reheat before proceeding.) Adjust the seasoning; if the soup tastes flat, stir in the sugar to play up the carrot flavor.

03 If you’re serving the soup hot, reheat it in the saucepan. If you’re serving it cold, refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours. Either way, stir in the cream if you’re using it, then garnish and serve.

Variations

Creamy Fennel Soup. A shot of Pernod, Ricard, or other anise-flavored liqueur added with the vegetable stock will boost the flavor even further. Substitute fennel for carrots; reserve the fennel fronds for garnish and use them in place of the parsley.

Creamy Celery Soup. Substitute celery for the carrots; reserve the celery leaves for garnish if they’re green and fresh; otherwise use parsley or dill for garnish.