Humble, bumpy, rough carrots. We peel and slice them into sticks and stuff them in lunchboxes, or put them out with a dip when company comes. We chop them and use them in soups and stews, but rarely do we let them star on their own.
This bisque-like soup changes that thinking. Pretty and lush, this creamy bowl of deliciousness gives carrots their due respect.
And it’s worth pausing to shake your head at how cheap carrots usually are; you can do a lot with a pound or two of carrots, and they won’t make much of a dent in your food budget. Carrots are also seriously nutritious — tons of vitamin A and antioxidants, and an assortment of other vitamins and minerals.
But once you start eating, you will not be thinking, “Boy, this sure is healthy!” Just surrender to the velvety texture and round flavor of the soup.
The addition of a small amount of white rice simply serves to thicken the soup once it’s pureed, which lets the carrots and other supporting vegetables hold the spotlight. However, I did try this recipe with jasmine rice once, and liked the faint aromatic flavor that it lent to the mix.
And it’s always amazing to me how a small amount of cream added to a soup adds such voluptuousness and rounds out the flavor. Skip it only if someone has a lactose problem (and in that case, ladle out their portion and add a bit of cream to the rest). Don’t tell them what they are missing.
Cream of Carrot Soup
Start to finish: 1 hour (at least 30 minutes hands off)
4 slices bacon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup uncooked white rice
6 cups less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
To serve (optional):
Crumbled cooked bacon
Crumbled feta, goat cheese or blue cheese
Chopped fresh parsley
In a large pot or a Dutch oven, saute the bacon until it is crisp, over medium high heat. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, let cool and drain, and crumble the bacon. Set aside.
Pour off all the bacon fat from the pot, and then melt the butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, shallots and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, until the carrots have started to become tender.
Add the rice and the chicken broth, turn the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables are completely tender and the rice is very soft. Puree the soup in batches in a blender or a food processor, or use an immersion blender to puree it in the pot, until very smooth. Stir in the cream and heat through.
Serve the soup hot, topped with the bacon, a crumble of whatever cheese you like, and some parsley. Give it a final sprinkle of pepper if desired.