My best friend Peggy gave me this marvelous recipe for a beautiful, uncomplicated, elegant soup. It's a little bit on the spicy side, so if you have kids who prefer blander foods, you can leave out the garlic and ginger for them. Also, for the half-and-half, you could substitute heavy whipping cream (I did it only because that's what I had in the fridge) or coconut milk (for you non-dairy peeps out there) or even chicken broth (the texture of the soup is already pretty creamy without the cream!). I cannot locate the primary source of this recipe, but most likely, Gourmet magazine.
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 T finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 t finely chopped garlic
2 lbs. carrots, peeled and chopped
4 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
3/4-1 cup half-and-half
1. Cook onion and celery in oil in a 4-5 quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6-8 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Add carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes.
2. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are very tender, 15-20 minutes.
3. Puree soup in batches in a blender (I used a food processor -- better! I have also used an immersion blender which does a quick job, but it's hard to tell if you've purreed every last drop) until very smooth, about 1 minute per batch (watch out with hot liquids), transferring to a large fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl. Force soup through sieve (discard any solids), then thin with cream to desired consistency. Season with salt (if you don't add the garlic and ginger, I would season additionally with a dash or two of ground white pepper). (I did not use the sieve, or actually, I tried, but was unable to get the soup through -- my sieve was, I guess, TOO fine. I still think the texture for marvelously smooth and creamy.)
NOTE: Soup can be made 2 days ahead and cooled completely, then chilled, covered. Reheat.
The photo is a different version of this soup -- I added 6 cups of stock instead of 4.5 and omitted garlic, ginger, and cream. I did add the white pepper. Still pretty tasty, and a little simpler. Very kid-friendly.