Modernist Cuisine at Home IS a pretty fancy cookbook, the pictures are drool-worthy, and while some recipes are a little above my paygrade, there are many recipes that can easily be made at home (as that was the point of the book), this carrot soup is one of them.
You do need a pressure cooker, but I think everyone should own one these days because they make life easy and they make incredible food. (One fact I learned from MC at Home is that if you're using an oven or slow cooker for cooking and your house smells incredible, that's actually flavor LEAVING your food! Pressure cookers keep all that flavor tucked inside and it stays in your food where it belongs.)
This soup has very few ingredients allowing the pure carrot flavor to really shine, the pressure cooker caramelizes the carrots to give them a sweet, nutty flavor that when blended no heavy cream is needed to get a creamy flavor. Few ingredients also mean this soup is gluten free.
Try to use the best carrots you can find, I made this before Ohio carrots were growing so I used organic carrots.
Makes 6 1-cup portions, recipe can be doubled
Recipe from: Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold, Maxime Bilet
Step 1: Gather ingredients
5 cups/5 medium (500 g) carrots, peeled
1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter
1/8 cup (30 g) water
1 1/4 tsp. (5 g) salt
3/8 tsp. (2.5 g) baking soda
2 1/2 cups (635 g) fresh carrot juice (I made mine in my Vitamix, recipe below)
3 1/2 Tbsp. (40 g) unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
For carrot juice, recipe from Vitamix:
1 cup (240 ml) water
1 1/2 cups (190 g) diced carrots
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or 1 teaspoon concentrate
1 cup (240 ml) ice cubes
Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
Select Variable 1.
Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
Blend for 1 minute or until desired consistency is reached. Strain through fine mesh sieve.
Step 2: Prepare and pressure cook carrots
The only tedious, somewhat finicky part of this recipe is completely optional, it's coring the carrots. MC at Home says the cores can be bitter, as I do not like bitter, I remove the cores. At some point I'll try the soup without removing them and see how we like it, it takes some time to cut and core, but it can be done a few hours ahead.
(Update February 2015: I've now made this soup MANY times and stopped coring the carrots, no one has detected any difference in flavor, and it sure saves a lot of time.)
Slice the carrots lengthwise into quarters, and cut out and discard the tough and fibrous core (it's lighter in color and you'll see it clearly when carrots are quartered). Then cut the cored carrots into 2-inch pieces (I either cut them first or after coring depending on how evenly shaped the carrot is). Removing the cores improves the texture and sweetness of the soup.
Melt 1/2 cup butter in the base of a pressure cooker. The coating of butter helps to prevent the carrots from sticking.
Stir the water, salt, and baking soda until combined. Add this mixture and the carrot pieces to the melted butter, and stir well.
Pressure-cook the carrots on high pressure for 20 minutes. Start timing as soon as pressure has been reached (if you are using a stove-top pressure cooker, shake the pan every few minutes to prevent sticking). After 20 minutes the carrots should be fully caramelized. Quick release the pressure.
Step 3: Blend soup, warm, and enjoy
Blend the carrot mixture to a smooth puree. Pass the puree though a fine sieve into a pot. (Because my Vitamix creates an incredibly smooth puree, I don't strain it.)
Bring the carrot juice to a boil in separate pot (if you haven't made fresh carrot juice and strained it), strain the juice through a fine sieve to remove any solids.
Stir the strained juice into the carrot puree, add water as needed to thin the soup to the desired consistency. (We enjoy a thicker soup so I don't usually use all the carrot juice, I stir in about a cup at a time until it's as thick as we like. I keep the remaining carrot juice for reheating any leftovers.)
Blend remaining 3 1/2 Tbsp. butter into the soup until it has just melted. Use an immersion blender, the blending is crucial to achieve a velvety texture. (Again, my Vitamix does a perfect job of making a smooth puree so I just stir to let the butter melt.)
Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste, and serve it warm. (If your carrots aren't as sweet as you'd like, I've added up to 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar at this point to achieve the balance my family enjoys.) A squeeze of lemon juice added before serving can brighten the flavors. (Update February 2015: I always add lemon juice.)
MC at Home suggests garnishing with some coconut cream, as most of my family doesn't enjoy coconut, we eat it as is. We enjoyed this soup multiple times in the first month I made it, and continue to love it.
Please enjoy this delicious soup!