While carrots have a long growing season in Ireland, I generally think of them as a springtime vegetable since they’re obligatory with a St. Patrick’s Day meal of bacon and cabbage and, of course, as the favorite food of Easter bunnies! As we welcome spring today, how about a tasty recipe for Carrot Soup, one that I first enjoyed during an April visit to Ireland many years ago. I always associate it with this time of year and have recently added a topping of Bacon Bread Crumbs — make a double batch and freeze them to top other soups.
Carrot Soup with Bacon Bread Crumbs
Bacon Bread Crumbs
2 slices American bacon
2 slices firm white sandwich bread
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
10 whole cloves, wrapped and tied in cheesecloth
4 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 tablespoons heavy cream
Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
1. Make bread crumbs. In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook bacon for 7 to 9 minutes, turning frequently, or until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Discard all but 2 tablespoons fat from pan.
2. In a food processor, pulse bread 8 to 10 times to medium-fine crumbs. Transfer bread crumbs to bacon fat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to a small bowl.
3. Pulse bacon in food processor to fine bits and stir into bread crumbs. Stir in parsley and pepper. Set aside.
4. Make soup. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat butter and oil. Add carrots, onions, garlic, and cloves and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until vegetables are soft but not browned.
5. Add stock or broth, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until carrots are very soft. Remove soup from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Discard cloves.
6. Working in batches, transfer soup to a food processor or blender and purée until smooth. (Or, purée in pot with an immersion blender.) Return purée to saucepan over medium heat and stir in lemon juice, sugar, and cream. Simmer until heated through and season with salt and pepper. To serve, ladle soup into 6 shallow bowls and sprinkle with parsley and bread crumbs.
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