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Creamy Rich Carrot Soup

It's a first course, but very rich indeed. Serve hot to 4 people--and with a hearty winter meal. For an excellent variation, Linda Blackwell of Ottawa, Canada, recommends substituting for the cloves a fine grating of nutmeg (1/4 teaspoon) and 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger--then garnish with julienne strips of sweet pickled ginger. Quite dramatic!

Garnish: 1 carrot, peeled

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the carrots and onions. Stir until the onions are transparent, then stir in flour and cook for a minute. Add the stock slowly, blending well, then season with salt and pepper and cloves. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the cloves and puree the soup. Return to the pot, add the milk and cream, and stir until it is about to boil. Ladle immediately into bowls, then, with a carrot peeler, peel some 5-10 slivers from the remaining carrot onto the face of the soup into each bowl.