Heirloom Carrot Soup

I used to have soup anxiety.

I know this sounds ridiculous, but hear me out!

When I’m hungry, I tend to reach for something hearty. Something that’ll feed my belly until the next time I get to put something in it. These are usually solids. Never in my head would I think, “Ah, I know! A good watery soup would hit the spot!”

Nay, I tell you.

But I’m changing. I used to be afraid of broth based soups. “It’s like dish water…” I would say. I’d be joking, but in a way that I’d hope those who knew me best would avoid the soup discussion. Thick soups are different. Potato, chowder, etc. Those are heavy. “Soppable” with a nice piece of crusty bread. Oh dang, I think I’m hungry again.

These days, I dig it. I love a good sweet and spicy soup. I love hittin’ it up with some cream and maybe a little creme fraiche at the end.

I was walking through Pastaworks (local Portland store up on Hawthorne and another on Mississippi) and found myself walking around their store at least two times. While soaking in all their neat little gadgets, cheeses, meats and dried goods, I stumbled upon these beautiful and gigantic heirloom carrots. They were a yellowy-brown color. I had to have em’.

I decided I would turn them into soup. I picked up two leeks, an onion, a bulb of garlic and two ribs of celery. I’m loving what celery does these days. Adds such good sweetness. Amazing to think these vegetables turn into such sweet and savory things.

Here’s my recipe for carrot soup. And they don’t have to be heirloom, but since these were, I figured I’d make it sound a lot cooler.

Note: You’ll need a blender or immersion blender for this soup. If not, you can leave it hearty, but I’m not sure it’ll come out tasting the same. Invest in an immersion blender. It’ll change your life.

Ingredients:
1-2lb yellow heirloom carrots (or just regular orange carrots)
2 Leeks, diced (white and light green parts only)
1 small yellow onion, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 ribs of celery, thinly sliced
1 tsp. thyme
2 tsp. yellow curry powder
tiny pinch of cayenne
kosher salt, fresh black pepper
1/2 tsp. fennel seed
3 cups water, or veggie stock
3 cups chicken stock (or all veg. stock)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. creme fraiche (optional)

What to do:
In a medium sized soup pot, throw in your onions and leeks. Toss in a little salt and let them babies get some color.
Once they turn lightly brown, throw in your carrots, celery and garlic. Stir and cook for 10 minutes or until the carrots just start to become tender. Add your spices. Cook for another 5 minutes.

At this point, your kitchen is smellin’ legit! The curry and fennel and thyme will be right up front. Breathe it in.

Crank up your heat and add the liquid. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Adjust your salt and pepper and cayenne little bits at a time. Remember, remember, remember. As your soup cooks, it’ll become more concentrated so be careful not to over salt. You like spicier, hit it up with some more cayenne. Loosely cover with a lid and let it cook for about 30-40 minutes until everything is super tender.

After it’s done, take it off the heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Get out your immersion blender and blend it all till you’ve gotten all the big hunks taken care of. (If you’re using a blender, do it in small batches and pour it into a separate bowl.

Get out your sieve or strainer and a ladle or big spoon. In small batches, transfer your blended soup into the sieve and push it through with your ladle over a separate bowl or pot. Discard the chunky mass of vegetable and repeat until all the soup has passed through creating this lovely, smooth and beautifully colored soup.

Return to the stove and on a low heat, stir in your cream. Bring up to heat and taste. Adjust seasonings if need be.

Serves about 4 — top with a dollop of creme fraiche, drizzle of olive oil, fresh black pepper and chives.

Soup.

Hmph.

It sorta is good for the soul.

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