Call this a recipe of serendipity. I developed this recipe last year when writing the new book. I was working hard to use every single item in my refrigerator to avoid wasting food when I found myself staring at a two-pound bag of organic carrots. At the same time, Mike had trimmed the ancient rosemary bush that sometimes invades our driveway. I don’t think I would have thought to pair the two things together, but I’m a fan of savory and sweet so I gave it a try. Now it’s a household.
One thing that I discuss in the new book is the importance of learning to make soup. Vegetable-based soups are cheap, an easy way to use up leftovers and when pureed, often a way to get vegetables into kids who won’t eat them in their usual form. Case in point: our friend’s daughter refuses to eat raw carrots, but she’ll slurp down a gallon of carrot soup. This method can be used with other unappreciated vegetables in your crisper.
This savory and sweet soup can be served at any temperature, but it’s excellent chilled. Immersion or “stick” blenders are great for soup because you can plunge them directly into the pot. Hot soup can create a vacuum in conventional blenders, so if you use one, let the soup chill slightly first, and then take the cap off and cover with a towel. Running soups through a food mill is a low-tech option. If you have none of the above, simply mash the softened vegetables with a fork or potato masher; it will lend a rustic feel to the finished product. Add the rosemary, branch and all, but be sure to remove it before pureeing unless you’re looking for, um, well some unexpected fiber in your dish.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1½ cups)
2 leeks (white and light green parts), chopped
1 pound carrots, diced
Several fresh rosemary sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
⅓ cup quality plain yogurt (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart or larger saucepan. Add the onion and leeks and sauté until softened. Add the carrots, rosemary sprigs, bay leaf, stock, a couple of pinches of coarse salt, a few grinds of coarse pepper, and a pinch of cayenne if using. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to simmer until the carrots soften, about 1 hour,.
Remove from the heat. Discard the rosemary and the bay leaf. Puree until smooth. Add in additional water if necessary. Return to the pot. Check the seasonings, adding salt, black pepper, and cayenne to taste. Serve warm or cooled. Garnish with a scoop of greek yogurt or croutons if desired.