There’s a soup swap that we’ve been invited to the last couple of years and while “swap” may sound innocent enough, my husband Devin and I both translate this into “competition”. You can read about how the event works here but what’s most important in our minds is being the first soup to be “sold out” and while winning overall would be awesome, I have to admit that mainly I just feel compelled to beat Devin.
So in the couple of weeks prior, I was pouring over recipe books and websites looking for just the thing that would take the crown. I also posted on the Bistro One Six’s Facebook page asking any friends if they had favorites. I got several solid suggestion but it was when neighbor and friend Greg Bernhardt piped in “We have a carrot soup from Modernist Cuisine that is one of the most sublime soups I’ve ever had. You can borrow the cookbook if you want and our pressure cooker.”
Carrot soup? It seems so simple. Not all all like the complicated recipes I had been pondering. Soups that would easily take days to make. This recipe that was going to take an hour tops to pull off. Could something that takes so little time really be that mind blowing? I was skeptical. But when I saw Greg a couple days later he assured me that this soup WOULD win. No question in his mine. Now given that Greg and his wife, Patti, have major foodie credentials when it comes both to their cooking and the fine restaurants around the world where they have dined, this wasn’t a recommendation I could walk away from.
So I sauntered across the alley and picked up the cookbook and the pressure cooker (isn’t this contraption the thing that was notorious for blowing up in the 50’s or 60’s? The thing that on Top Chef no one can ever get the lid on?) and head home. The last word of advice on the way out the door was to get the best quality carrots available.
I open the book and am instantly mesmerized. I had turned just a few pages when I was already searching Amazon to see about getting my own copy. Amazingly cool cookbooks come with amazingly high price tags so brace yourself. Patti had gotten this as a Christmas present but as she pointed out, the buying doesn’t stop there as the cookbook utilizes all kinds of specialty equipment including sous vide, immersion blender and of course, the pressure cooker.
The simplicity of the ingredient list is indeed misleading unless you stop to ponder how much butter is in this recipe. No wonder it tastes so good! And the soup swap? Well apparently they agreed as mine was the first to go with Devin’s oxtail soup (which really was divine. There. I admitted it.) coming in a close second which in his words is “just another word for first loser”. Don’t be so hard on yourself honey. There’s always next year!
Caramelized Carrot Soup
From Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold with Maxine Bilet
Makes 6 servings
Carrot cores, rich in calcium, can add a bitter taste and unpleasant texture to this delicate soup, so remove them.
5 cups carrots, peeled
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/8 cup water
1 1/4 tsp salt
3/8 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups fresh carrot soup
3 1/2 Tbsp carotene butter (recipe below) or unsalted butter
Core the carrots by quartering them lengthwise and slicing away any tough or fibrous cores. Cut the cored carrots into 2˝ long pieces.
Melt the butter in the base of a pressure cooker over medium heat.
Combine the water, salt & baking soda and stir to combine. Add with the carrots to the melted butter. Pressure-cook at a gauge pressure of 1 bar/15 psi for 20 minutes, starting the timing when full pressure is reached.
Depressurize the cooker quickly by running tepid water over the rim.
Blend the mixture to a smooth puree. Pass through a fine sieve into a pot.
Bring the carrot juice to a boil in a separate pot, and then strain through a fine sieve. Stir into the carrot puree. Add water if necessary to thin the soup to the desired consistency.
Blend the carotene butter into the soup by using an immersion blender until the butter has just melted. Add salt to taste and serve warm.
Stove-Top Carotene Butter
Yields 1 cup
The carotene pigment that makes carrots orange is fat-soluable. By cooking carrot juice and butter together, you can dissolve the pigment into the butterfat. This carotene butter is superb for finishing soups and purees, cooking fish and shellfish, and whisking into warm vinaigrettes. So make plenty and pull it out of the freezer when you want to add an elegant twist to simple dishes.
3 cups fresh carrot juice
2 cups unsalted butter, cubed
Bring 2 cups of carrot juice to a simmer in a pot over medium heat.
Blend butter in gradually using an immersion blender. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring frequently.
Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining carrot juice. Cool and refrigerate overnight.
Scoop just the congealed butterfat part into a pot and warm until melted. Strain through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth.
Keeps in the fridge 2 weeks or up to 6 months frozen.