We’ve had some incredibly wacky weather in Pennsylvania of late. Temperature swings of more than 60 degrees in just days bring with them freak blizzards, gushing thaw, and icy refreeze at a moment’s notice.
I live on the top of a steep hill, which means I’m trapped at home if there’s more than a few inches of snow (last week we got 10) or even a thin layer of ice (which we’ve had twice in as many days). With such fickle weather it’s hard to get to the market with any regularity. So what to do when the temperature drops below freezing and I’m stuck at the top of the hill? Clearly soup is in order, but with what?
I may or may not have squash, greens, potatoes, or leeks, but there are three items that I always, always, always have on hand. They are the foundation of an immeasurable number of dishes. Carrots, celery, and onion together form the balanced flavor of mirepoix, the vegetal start to just about everything French and the first thing they’ll teach you at culinary school. They are the base of this carrot soup that is warming whether the weather is -2 degrees, like it was this weekend, or 62 degrees like it is as I'm writing.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 lb. carrots, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 thyme sprigs
1 1/2 quarts vegetable stock or water
1 cup heavy cream (optional)
1 grated carrot
Celery leaves or mizuna for garnish
Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until hot. Stir in the onions, and cook until pale golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the celery stalks, carrots, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and cook, stirring, until the celery is translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the carrots are very tender, about 25 minutes.
Puree the soup in batches using a blender, then stir in the cream, if using. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper, and serve, garnished with the grated carrot and celery leaves.