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Buttery Carrot Soup

(New Zealand)

Sweet and buttery, this elegant soup has a pure taste and delicate orange-yellow color, like a summer day. Lynda Finn, who contributed this recipe, lives in Waitakere, New Zealand, and is a keen cook, the mother of two boys (who have always appreciated her culinary skills!) and author of the size-acceptance and self-esteem book Largely Happy. She makes a strong case for letting the carrots and butter stand on their own merits without the complications of other flavors: "One Christmas", she says, "when I lived in England, we invited a bunch of U.S. Marines from the local airbase to have dinner with us. Most of them had a 'thing' about carrots, had hated them since childhood, but all were willing to try this soup and not one left any in the bowl, several even asked for the recipe. I think the special difference is butter, accept no substitute, butter--The Magic Ingredient." I agree. Serve hot as a first course to 4 people.

Garnish: Spatters of heavy cream, topped with grindings of black pepper, garlic croutons, and/or toasted sesame and pumpkin seeds.

Melt the butter in a saucpan over medium heat, add the carrots, and cook slowly for 6-10 minutes (the longer you cook, the sweeter and more roasted the taste). Pour in the stock and milk, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 8-10 minutes, til the carrots are tender. Puree, solids first, and don't be quick about pouring all the liquid in at once. You want a thick and creamy consistency, not a watery soup. If the consistency is too thick, of course, you can always thin with a little more milk. Pour back into the pan, season to taste with salt and pepper, and simmer another minute or two.

When ready to serve, ladle into bowls, spatter with some heavy cream, and top with the pepper, garlic croutons, and/or toasted sesame and pumpkin seeds. [Or, if you want to be really bad, like me, you can instead just ladle into bowls, dot with a little butter, and spatter with cream.]