As a kid, I loved Cup-a-Soup. Remember those red boxes of dehydrated noodles, cardboard chicken cubes, and powder? Of course the ingredients list includes some real winners, including Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, MSG and Autolyzed Yeast Extract (whatever that is, it doesn’t sound too good). Still, when I was 15, this seemed like a good choice, and I suppose it was when you consider most of my friends would sneak to McDonald’s for lunch.
I still love soup. However, nowadays I gravitate to simpler, fresher varieties, like this delicious carrot soup. With six ingredients, it’s a far cry from Lipton’s science experiment concoction, but it’s so thick and satisfying, I don’t think you’ll miss those chicken cubes.
When making soup, it’s important to take your time and allow the flavors to build at each step. Don’t worry, that sounds a lot more complicated than it is. Simply stir, taste, add salt if necessary, then move on. The onions and butter really bring out the carrots’ sweetness. This soup makes a great family supper (with some French bread of course), and it’s also great as a light yet filling lunch. I totally crave it. If your kids like carrots, they’ll love this. If not, well the same recipe works with broccoli or corn.Simple Carrot Soup
4 tbs. unsalted butter (organic butter tastes better)
2 onions, diced
1 bay leaf or a pinch of dried thyme (if you happen to have it, toss in one sprig of fresh thyme)
2 lbs. carrots, peeled and sliced into 1″ pieces (again, buy organic if possible)
salt & freshly ground pepper
6-8 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
In a heavy pot (like a Dutch oven), melt the butter and add the onions and herbs. Cook over medium-low heat until the onions are translucent and very tender, but don’t brown them, about 10 minutes. Add the carrots and a pinch or two of salt. Stir well to coat the carrots with the butter, then cook for about 5 minutes. Add stock, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the carrots are tender but not mushy (about 30 minutes). If you want to puree the soup, transfer it in batches to a food mill or blender, or you can do what I do and stick an immersion blender in there. My method makes a soup that’s partially pureed but not smooth. Check seasoning and add salt if necessary. Serve with a healthy grind of fresh black pepper (I’m not sure why, but this step is crucial; the pepper really sets off the carrots’ flavor I guess).