Simple ingredients with the right flair — that describe this French Carrot Soup. Serve as an appetizer or a light lunch. Whipped cream, a poached egg, radish sprouts, and parmesan crisps add a bit of elegance and flair to this dish.
Carrot soup is about as easy as it gets, onion, carrot, and stock of some sort. With that simple approach, you have soup. Applying the Zous Chef research to this topic might seem to be overkill. But nonetheless, the research revealed a remarkable amount of variability, especially for such a straightforward dish.
The stocks used are an example. Chicken stock and vegetable stock are both freely used. Sometimes just water is used, sometimes, the carrots are drained and puréed — producing a thick soup. Flavorings frequently are used, especially curry. Excellent idea, but not what I was after here.
One thing is clear from the research. Carrot soup can be a bit sweet. The sugar in carrots becomes apparent. In addition to the stocks, many of the added ingredients are to offset this sweetness.
What did appeal to me was the addition of rice. This is a classic French preparation from the town of Crécy, complete with a bit of history associated with it. I liked this because it produces a thicker soup allowing for the embellishments topping my resulting soup.
Choice of Stocks
I tested both chicken and vegetable stocks and was surprised by how little difference I could taste in the final product. My conclusion? Use the best you got. Of note though if you are creating vegetable stock consider roasting the vegetables as I suggest in my Market Vegetable stock.
I few dollops of lightly sweetened whipped cream provide a richness and a way to add my next embellishment…
Parmesan Crisps are a very easy, showy addition. The baked earthy taste of the cheese is an offset to the sweet carrots.
This turns the dish into something quite a bit more elegant. The thick soup will allow you to lay the egg on the top. The yolk will mix in with the soup with the cream for a rich result.
Also showy, but necessary. Radish sprouts provide an additional bitterness to offset the sweet carrots.
I get it, this recipe may be a bit over the top for a weekday meal. Fortunately, the recipe makes a lot of soup and you can easily refrigerate or freeze some. Whether as leftovers or just the easier options consider the following:
- Replace whipped cream with creme fraiche (or just cream). The creme fraiche though off-sets the sweetness of the carrots better.
- Green onions or chives instead of radish sprouts. Frankly, they are easier to find in the store.
- Chopped boiled eggs instead of poached. Certainly timing boiled eggs is easier. They are even easier yet if you follow this approach of steaming the eggs.
- Grated parmesan is perfectly fine and does save a few weeknight minutes.
French Carrot Soup - Embellished
Simple, but you can still show off
- 4-5 carrots (approx 600g or 1 ⅓ pounds), peeled and chopped
- 1 liter (approx 1 quart) chicken or vegetable stock (Note 1)
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 medium mild onion, peeled and chopped
- 100g (approx ½ cup) rice, arborio if available
- Salt and Pepper
- ¼ cup cream
- 1 teaspoon sugar (less if your carrots are sweet)
- 4 eggs, cracked and ready to poach (Note 2)
- Radish Sprouts or chopped chives for garnish
- Parmesan Crisps
- Salt and Pepper for the eggs. The pepper should be ground very fine.
Preparing Soup Base
- Add the oil in a medium saucepan over low-medium heat. Immediately add the onions and saute till just starting to soften and change color.
- Add the carrots and cook for approximately 5-8 minutes. Until the carrot's edges start to lightly caramelize.
- Add the rice and the stock. Bring to a light simmer and simmer covered for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender. (Note 3)
- The soup can be served warm. However, if you want the serving suggested below, let the soup cool to serve lukewarm. It may also be prepared in advance and refrigerated until needed.
- Whip the cream with the sugar until peaks are formed.
- Spoon the carrot soup into serving bowls. The soup needs to be lukewarm to prevent melting the cream or continuing to cook the eggs.
- Poach the eggs for 2 to 3 minutes. Yolks should be a bit runny. (If using boiled eggs, see note 2, slice the eggs as desired.)
- Spoon the whipped cream as a mound on top of the soup. (Create the number of mounds as you have parmesan crisps.) . Stand the crisps on the mounds.
- Place the egg on top of the soup. The soup should be thick enough to support the eggs on top. Salt and pepper the eggs.
- Garnish with Radish sprouts.
Note 1: Either, chicken stock or vegetable stock seems to work equally well. If using vegetable stock, it is best to use stock made with roasted vegetables as discussed in my Market Vegetable Stock.
Note 2: Less elegant, but convenient for a weekday meal, chop some boiled eggs on top instead of the poached eggs.
Note 3: A regular blender or food processor will also work.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 269Total Fat: 8.7gSaturated Fat: 2.1gCholesterol: 186mgSodium: 251mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 5gSugar: 9.5gProtein: 9.8g