The Accustomed Carrot Soup

My regular carrot soup started out as a pretty standard potage de Crécy, or at least what I thought was a potage de Crécy. I quickly found myself changing it to add other bits and pieces and to make it as low fat as I could. I don’t really like being too fussy over this soup and I’ll change proportions and some of the flavourings now and then, but this is as close to a standard as I get for a satisfying lunch on a cold day.

This recipe makes 4 to 5 portions depending on how thick you like it and how much wastage you get with your carrots. I sometimes make a fair bit extra and load the freezer.

600 g carrots, unprepared weight
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 litres vegetable stock – you could make your own, of course, but a stock from Marigold vegetable bouillon will do fine. You could also use chicken stock.
1 rounded teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons basmati or long grain rice
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (it should be a decent one but it doesn’t have to be the best)
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
Squeeze or three of lemon juice

Get the onions going in a large sauté pan or saucepan with a spray of oil over a low heat and when they start to sizzle add around 90ml of water and let them soften as the water boils gently away.

Top, tail, peel and chop the carrots into fairly small pieces. When the water has disappeared from the onions (or near enough), stir in the carrots and add 1500 ml of the stock. Add 4 or 5 turns of black pepper, a pinch of salt, the thyme and chilli flakes. Don’t season too much at this stage; you can adjust the seasoning at the end. Throw in the rice and pour in the orange juice and balsamic vinegar.

Bring to the boil and the leave the mix to simmer very gently for 30 – 40 minutes. The time this takes will depend on how small you’ve chopped your carrots, but the carrots need to be nice and tender.

Cool a little, then liquidise the lot. You’ll probably need to add all or most of the remaining stock at this point to get the thickness you want. Adjust the seasoning and add the lemon juice to taste. A little chopped chervil sprinkled on top is always nice.

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