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Weirdly Satisfying Carrot Soup

I called this "weirdly satisfying" because it's really just a big bowl of carrots.

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.

The big, fat organic carrots with the leaves still on them are usually freshest; they don't languish in plastic bags before you buy them.

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)

If you haven't done so already, teach your kids to use a vegetable peeler. It's fun!

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).

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