Let’s face it: Carrots aren’t very exciting. They’re bland as a side dish and often relegated to third-tier ingredients in salads or slurped up in juice mixes. And as the key ingredient in carrot cake, they’re buried beneath cream cheese icing to the point where their basically unrecognizable. Does carrot cake taste like carrots? Hell no. All that aside, carrots can make a great base for a refreshing soup. Paired here with star anise, carrots almost become transcendent. Call it the comeback of the year.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 5 whole star anise, two for grating for garnish, optional*
- 1/4 cup cream
- coarse salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
- In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic, 3 star anise and ginger and cook, stirring constantly for 2 more minutes.
- Add the carrots, stock and bay leaf and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and star anise.
- Using a stick blender or by placing the mixture into a blender in batches, puree until smooth. Return to the pot, add the cream and bring to a low simmer. Season with salt and cayenne.
- Top with additional grated star anise if you want a stronger licorice flavor.