The simple vegetable can reach sublime heights with thyme, honey and roasting.
Marco Pierre White: elevate the humble carrot soup
"Carrot soup?" I hear you cry. "Why on earth would I need a three-star-Michelin chef to tell me how to make a bloody carrot soup?" Well, maybe you don't, but indulge me for a moment.
My mother used to say that carrot soup was a waste of carrots and she had a point. The reason it can be a waste of carrots is that people don't know how to tease the best out of a carrot, they don't know how to make a carrot sing, how to elevate it from just a simple root vegetable to something truly exquisite.
There's not much to say about a carrot, is there, really? A rather simple soul, best eaten raw on a picnic by the River Thames. But I am going to teach you how to treat a carrot properly. You see, simple things such as carrots need just some tweaks to bring them out. A carrot is like the girl who always stands in the corner at the school dance and then suddenly has her braces removed and stuns everyone in the room with her new-found smile and confidence. In this recipe you use a little bit of honey and a sprinkling of thyme to lift the carrot's flavours, as well as baking it first. Remember all those weeks ago when I told you that a cooked tomato has more flavour than a raw one? The same applies to carrots.
A carrot soup, when made well, is one of the simplest and most delicious things you can cook. It is bordering on fast food, it's so quick. But you do need to spice it up. If you're feeling a bit more adventurous than this recipe is, then add some chillis, or some cardamom pods. You can modify your carrot soup depending on your mood, or whom you are cooking for. If you need to persuade the kids to eat it, then tell them there is plenty of cream in it, that normally gets them interested. Or you can talk to them about Bugs Bunny, who is rarely seen without a carrot.
And to move a little more highbrow (and also to continue my revolutionary theme of last week), I leave you with my favourite (and possibly the only) quote about carrots, from the artist Paul Cèzanne talking about the new way of seeing things, which paved the way for modern art:
"The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution."
Learn master chefs' cooking secrets and find simple, healthy recipes at www.thenational.ae/recipes.
Make It Yourself: Roasted carrot soup
8 large carrots, diced
100ml vegetable oil
3 tbsp butter
2 medium white onions, finely sliced
1 medium leek, finely sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1.5 litres vegetable stock
500ml single cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Toss the carrots with the oil and place in a 200°C oven for 15-20 minutes until nicely roasted. During the last 5 minutes of roasting, drizzle the honey over the carrots and return to the oven to glaze.
2. Melt the butter in a large pot and sweat the onions with the leek and celery.
3. Add the roasted carrots, thyme and vegetable stock to the pot with the onions and let simmer until the carrots are soft, about 20 minutes.
4. Puree the soup with a stick mixer or in a bar blender, then strain through a fine sieve.
5. Return the strained soup to a clean pot and finish with the cream and season. Serves six.