I typically seek out "early" carrots with the bushy green tops still on. The leaves should be fresh and not wilted, and the carrots should have vibrant color. If they feel rubbery, pass on them. I pass on bagged carrots or the big, woody ones - the early carrots often have a much sweeter flavor.
1 1/4 pounds carrots
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or clarified butter)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cups+ vegetable stock or water
juice of 1/2 a lemon
fine grain sea salt (as much as you need)
- olive oil, toasted sesame oil, or red chile oil for a finishing drizzle - if you use toasted sesame oil (sometimes labeled pure sesame oil) it is very strong. I typically dilute it with olive oil. I use one part sesame oil to four parts olive oil.
Take the tops off the carrots (if they have tops) and give them a good scrub. Cut them into 1-inch segments and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and saute for a few minutes or until the onions start to get translucent. Add the stock and carrots and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender - longer if your carrot pieces ended up larger. But try not to overcook. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes.
Puree with a hand blender (sometimes I leave the soup a bit chunky, other times I go completely smooth) - then stir in the lemon juice. Now salt to taste. If you used a salty veggie stock, you might just need a little salt. If you used water, you'll need quite a bit more. Keep adding a few pinches at a time until the carrot flavor really pops. If it tastes flat or dull, keep adding.
Finish with a drizzle of great extra-virgin olive oil, one of the other drizzles I mention up above, or whatever twist you come up with.
Serves about 4.
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