Thursday, April 17, 2014

Behold... glorious carrot soup

Growing up I pretty much hated eating carrots, with the exception of carrot cake. They were so dull and uninspired. My mom served them steamed in a big bowl with butter and nothing else. She would sometimes cut them up in a salad of iceberg lettuce and French dressing and because of this, it wasn't until much later in life that I even considered eating carrots at all.

It all started with the rabbits. Before my son I had rabbits. Lots of them. All my friends had rabbits because of me and we would set play dates for our bunnies to get together and make even more rabbits. Being the doting "mom", I always had plenty of carrots around. The local stores would save the trimmings from the vegetables for me to pick up weekly. This included things like older carrots, carrot tops, outer leaves of lettuce, imperfect apples and strawberries.  Due to all the carrots around, I started eating them myself. I usually ate them raw and pickled in rice vinegar with other vegetables. I love this! That was about the time I started to make carrot soup. I'd had some at a restaurant in San Francisco that was absolutely fabulous and began to use the carrots to make the occasional carrot soup. Then I discovered different varieties of carrots at the farmers market and started buying carrots just for the soup. The Nelson variety is the one to get. They are noticeably sweeter with a finer texture than super market carrots, although super market carrots work fine also.

The smells of the carrots cooking with curry spices, bay leaves and chicken stock is so therapeutic. The bright orange color is gorgeous and the taste is divine. Even people who do not like carrots usually love this soup. Even kids love this soup. The combination of flavors change during cooking to meld into a unified taste all it's own. I've added things like cumin, turmeric, orange juice, potatoes and cayenne in the past for variations but honestly, the basic version of this recipe is still my favorite. I like it with just a few chunks and not all pureed so I remove about 1/2 cup of the vegetables to chop a little finer and re-add back into the pot after the vegetables have been pureed and before the milk and parsley are added. This soup pairs great with a side of crusty sourdough bread and butter. So healthy and flavorful. Yum!

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