Carrot and Jalapeño Soup

Sweet, sweet carrots enjoy a gentle (or not so subtle) blast of heat from jalapeños. Your choice: Discard the seeds and membranes, where the heat lies, and you’ll end with a pleasantly grassy overtone. Leave the jalapeños be and this is a soup that will warm you to the core on a cool fall afternoon. While you can use heavy cream to thicken this soup, consider giving crème fraiche a try. This thick and tangy substitute is perfect for cream soups because it resists curdling when added to hot soups.

Makes 6 servings

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 or 3 jalapeño peppers, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 4 cups rich chicken stock
  • 1 cup crème fraiche or heavy cream
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots and peppers. Sauté until soft and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the thyme, bay leaf and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook partially covered until the carrots are tender, about 30 minutes.

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender. Return to the pot. Stir in the crème fraiche and salt. Gently reheat without boiling. To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro.