Mark Bittman Recipe: Creamy Carrot Soup

(clayirving, Flickr Creative Commons)

Technically it’s springtime, but forecasts in parts of the northeast call for snow tomorrow. That actually makes it perfect weather for this delicious carrot soup from Mark Bittman’s book Food Matters. It’s a hearty vegetarian recipe that’ll fill up even the biggest meat-lovers around. (I’ve personally made this bright-orange dish several times, and if you enjoy the taste of carrots, I recommend throwing in up to two pounds of the long-stem beauties.) If you haven’t already, check out Bittman’s dining philosophy in Audubon’s special food issue, now available.

Creamy Carrot Soup

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 45 minutes

This soup is as good cold as it is hot, and its creaminess comes from vegetables, not from dairy items, though you can certainly enrich this soup by stirring in a pat of butter or a splash of cream or coconut milk after pureeing.

In place of the carrots, you might try fennel or celery; root vegetables like parsnips, celery root or turnips; spinach, sorrel, or watercress; sweet potatoes or winter squash; any potatoes; peas (alone or with some romaine lettuce). If you want to add spices—either curry powder or ground cumin seeds are good with carrots—stir them in just before adding the stock in Step 1.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion or a 2-inch piece of ginger, chopped
11/2 pounds carrots, roughly chopped
1 large starchy potato, peeled and roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves, for garnish

1. Put the oil in a large, deep saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the vegetables. Sprinkle 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.

2. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pan. Or cool the mixture slightly (hot soup is dangerous), and pass it through a food mill or pour it into a blender. Puree until smooth, working in batches if necessary. (You can make the soup ahead to this point. Cover, refrigerate for up to 2 days, and reheat before proceeding.)

3. If you’re serving the soup hot, gently reheat it, stirring it frequently. If you’re serving it cold, refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours. Either way, taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish before serving.

Chunky and Creamy Carrot Soup (non-vegetarian option): Use ginger. In step 2, puree only half of the soup and return it to the pot along with some chopped shrimp, ham or tofu cubes. Add a dried chile to the pot if you like, and cook until the shrimp is cooked or the ham or tofu is heated through. Garnish with chopped cilantro, scallions, and peanuts.