I have this book sitting on my kitchen counter, as though, in a pinch, I could open it to help me find that one missing step from my torchon of foies gras, or my locally foraged hearts of palm dish.
It’s a beautiful, beautiful book, but I always think of the recipes within as being so complicated, so finicky in that lovely French Laundry way, that I forget those little anecdotes written before the hearts of palm and after the torchon - the ones that are applicable to all normal ingredients, locally foraged or otherwise.
In these interim pages, the little intermissions before the real recipes begin again, Keller offers simple advice over and over again: how to big-pot blanch correctly, “the importance of hollandaise,” how to make the best soups.
For soups, verbatim: “identify your ingredient, cook it perfectly, and adjust the consistency.” So, if you happen to have a bunch of extra carrots lying around, as I did: carrots, glazed, adjust consistency with chicken stock. (Remember when I talked about the glory of not following recipes and ignoring finicky baking? This is it, in it’s finest.)
I added ginger, and a bit of onion, because I’m into being rogue when I make soup. Now I probably can’t call it something like essence of carrot, fit for the vegetable tasting at the French laundry, but it’s still lovely, every bit as warming and carroty as a winter carrot soup should be.
Below is an approximation of the recipe, but again, adjust it to your liking: more liquid, less, wing it if you’re feeling into that; this soup is very forgiving. In that way this recipe, or the rough blueprint of it, is a great confidence builder. Oh yeah, and buy this book, if you ignored my first urging.
Carrot and Ginger Soup
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
¼ cup peeled and finely chopped ginger root
6 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
Salt & ground pepper
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and ginger; saute for five to ten minutes until softened and fragrant. Set aside. Warm stock in a saucepan over low heat.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch the carrots until tender, about ten minutes. Drain and shock in ice water to stop the cooking process and retain their color.
Puree the blanched carrots with the onion and ginger with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender or food processor, adding liquid to your desired consistency. You’ll need six cups of stock if you like your soup still fairly liquid, but if you like a thicker soup, use less. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
This soup refrigerates and freezes well, and is even better on the second day. Serve with crusty bread, if you can.