Thursday, June 13, 2013

Carrot soup vs. carrot soup

Carrots are so gaudy.
Carrots. Not my favorite vegetable and yet a refrigerator feels empty without a bag of carrots. Why is that? I go to the supermarket, can't remember if we have carrots, buy carrots, come home, see that we already have carrots. Repeat. Funny how I don't have a problem remembering whether we have cherries or camembert or salami.

I made two different carrot soups this week and didn't start out planning to make any carrot soup at all. Carrot soup isn't high on my list of delicacies or even on it.

1. carrot soup from The Cooking of Provincial France. I'd thawed chicken stock to make asparagus soup from Provincial France, but ultimately couldn't justify spending $14 on asparagus when we had a crisper full of carrots. I switched soups. This soup, whose French name is potage Crecy, calls for cooking sliced carrots and onion in butter, then adding stock, a tiny bit of tomato paste, and rice. Cook until the carrots are soft. Puree and stir in 1/2 cup cream. Smooth, rich, and delicious! There was a time when I would have balked at the cream and that time was the 1980s when people were really down on cream. But a half cup of cream is not a lot of cream and I now think it's smart to put 1/2 cup of cream in a pot of vegetable soup if it means everyone will eat and enjoy vegetable soup. Seems like a net gain for human health. Everyone but Owen, who doesn't like soup, ate and enjoyed this vegetable soup. GRADE: A-

2. carrot and orange soup from The Silver Palate Cookbook. I know! Blast from the past. Next thing you know I'll be getting a perm and cooking chicken Marbella. This soup popped into my head and wouldn't leave, probably because it was the first carrot soup I ever cooked. According to notes in Silver Palate, I made it on May 29th, 1986 and deemed it "a wonderful soup." I remember it seemed sophisticated and edgy to put orange juice in carrot soup. In fact, carrot soup itself seemed sophisticated and edgy back in the day.
Sour cream helped.
To make this soup you saute lots of onions in butter, add lots of carrots and stock, cook until the vegetables are tender. Puree. It's very similar to the previous recipe until this juncture where, instead of adding cream, you add orange juice.

In my view, a mistake. Carrots are sweet to begin with and orange makes them cloying. This soup is stark and lean, sweet and garish, and I missed the mellowing cream. I would say the Silver Palate recipe reflected the 1980s fear of cream, but there's too much cream elsewhere in the book to make that argument. Mark and Isabel both liked this second carrot soup and seemed disinclined to elaborate or discuss. Odd. What could possibly be more interesting? GRADE: B

I started thinking I should try even more carrot soup recipes and then checked the impulse. Off the top of my head, here are a few things I'd rather make than carrot soup in the next week or two: veal shanks in pickle sauce, spaetzle, trifle, rigo jancsi, cronuts, Black Forest cake, corncob jelly.

On another subject, the bobcat is back. He swiped a chicken today while I was standing in the yard not 30 feet away. Nervy.

30 comments:

  1. Until the last few years, I LOATHED carrots. I've softened on them since, thanks to roasting and Moroccan salads (which have you steam the carrots a little first, toss warm with dressing, then cool to eat... brilliant). I'm on a vegetable-soup-for-breakfast kick, and I'm totally making some carrot soup now. Thanks for the nudge! Also, I agree: adding something creamy sounds WAY better than OJ. I'm going to try some coconut milk in my carrot soup. Fun!

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  2. !. Please be careful that the bobcat does not swipe you!

    2. I actually made Chicken Marbella the other night and - you know - it really is very good and very easy...:)

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  3. Hmmm...cream or oj? I'm curious about both.

    And, about that bobcat, how do you know when it's time to get a bb gun?

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  4. 1. Chicken marbella = AMAZING.
    2. I do the same thing with carrots every. week. Always buy too many. Have only made carrot soup once. Great reminder to do so more often!

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  5. If you can stand another go at carrot soup, this is fantastic: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/carrot-and-star-anise-soup

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  6. So glad others confessed to still loving Chicken Marbella -- I was almost afraid to admit it and worried I might be banned from your blog! But I still love it for big parties even though I did not discover it until the mid-90s!

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  7. I am loving the second one. Carrot and orange would be a fantastic combination! :)

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  8. I love the carrot orange soup from Edward Espe Brown's Tassajara Recipe Book, but it calls for cream. It does tend to be a bit sweet. I've been making it once or twice a year for 30 years.

    This one is a winner and I may even like it a bit better: http://food52.com/recipes/9743-roasted-carrot-soup

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  9. corncob jelly!? tell me more....also I think a BB gun might just make for an angry bobcat...

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  10. I have the opposite problem with carrots. I buy a big bag, then a couple days later when I go to cook something that calls for carrots, I assume they are still there because I haven't eaten any. But no, I'll find out in the middle of my prep, there are no carrots. Apparently I married a half man/half rabbit, because carrots and radishes just disappear.

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  11. Thanks so much for sharing the super-simple cronut recipe -- I hadn't thought to use ready-made frozen croissant dough! (Now that I think about it, I don't know if I should actually be thanking you, as I need to be thinking less about pastries and more about celery sticks.)

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  12. Carrot soup is the greatest! I like mine with lots of chopped dill and parsley and maybe some tart yogurt on top. Hooray!

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  13. That's so funny and true about the carrots. Either I have a couple of sad, hairy looking carrots in my fridge, or a have bags and bags of them. I can never remember if I have them and I seem to always guess wrong. I haven't looked inside my Silver Palette Cookbook in years, I think it's packed away somewhere, but I remember many of the savory recipes included fruit. My favorite recipes out of that book were the cookies, especially the Butterballs and a recipe for some pecan bar cookies that tasted like pecan pie. Also, if you're looking for a stellar recipe to use up carrots, have you tried the spiced butter glazed carrots from Around my French Table?

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  14. Oh, great post. I am going to admit that carrots are my favorite vegetable, especially the large woody ones you can get in the winter. They have the best flavor and are sweeter. I know, I'm weird. My dogs even beg for carrots. I haven't tried any of these recipes, so now I have a whole new list to try. I have never made chicken Marbella, and I have that book. I'll have to look it up.

    The bobcat, what to do?! I agree that the bb gun will just make him mad. I am currently trying to get rid of rodents, but my problem seems very small compared to yours. Good luck with a solution. That must be so frustrating. I truly can't imagine.

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  15. OK, I mentioned this to my husband, and he is always full of potential solutions. If you own a shotgun, maybe you should look into pepper shot shells. It sprays cayenne pepper instead of pellets. My husband says that his dad used these on unwanted wildlife when he was growing up with pretty good success. I don't know if this would quality as harassing the wildlife, but he is certainly harassing you, so who cares?

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  16. Oooh, spaeztle! I used to live in Germanyand miss spaeztle. I do hope you find a good recipe. Keep us posted, please!

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  17. P.S. Apropos of nothing, did you hear that Haig's closed? :( I started going there after you mentioned them in Bake the Bread....

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    1. YES. I knew the day was coming when they stopped selling Turkish delight. So sad.

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  18. So true about cream...I'm trying to lose my fear of it. It truly does bring a lot to the party, even in small quantities. My current favorite is just a teaspoon or two in scrambled eggs. Fabulous. Off to try the carrot soup.

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  19. I have the idea that my children will eat carrots, so they feature in the veg rotation. I made them carrot soup once but they never asked for it again. Then again, whatever recipe I used didn't involve cream.

    At a yard sale recently I picked up Sheila Lukins' "Around the World Cookbook", I think almost solely due to nostalgia -- the SP Basics cookbook was the first one I ever owned. All I can remember from it, though, is that the borscht was disgusting.

    I also just got "Jerusalem" and thought it was one of your shelf essentials, but no. Hmm. Are you not on the Ottolenghi bandwagon? I've never made any of his recipes but when I picked up the book it fell open to "burnt eggplant with garlic, lemon and pomegranate seeds" and I was a goner.

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  20. And also re: carrots, I tried Mark Bittman's carrots in balsamic vinegar and instead of making soft, yummy carrots I got hot, hard, pickled carrots. Seriously, 30 minutes of cooking and they were still hard. I learned something about vinegar that day. What it is, I'm still not sure, but it was something.

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  21. http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2013/01/carrot-soup-with-tahini-and-crisped-chickpeas/ is a nice carrot soup. The tahini makes it, I think.

    I also like http://medcookingalaska.blogspot.com/2008/05/recipe-carrots-with-capers-k-k.html

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