Modernist Cuisine: Caramelized carrot soup

It seems that one of the most popular recipes so far from Modernist Cuisine is the caramelized carrot soup. This probably has something to do with the accessibility of the recipe: it requires no special ingredients, and the only special equipment it needs is a pressure cooker. (OK, there’s the whole question of the centrifuge for the carrot juice and carotene butter, but those are hardly vital to the outcome of the recipe.)

It’s also a recipe that has given a lot of people a lot of trouble, judging by the comments I’ve read online. Reports of burned carrots, in particular, are common. The Modernist Cuisine team has done a great job of offering advice on how to make the recipe a success, and how to adapt it for home cooks who don’t have a centrifuge.

Naturally, I had to try it.

I took a couple of shortcuts with it, notably using bottled carrot juice rather than juicing my own, and using plain butter in place of the carotene butter. I also scaled the recipe back slightly, since my bottle of juice came up shy of the amount called for. However, I did make a point of buying fresh, young carrots (with their greens still attached), and coring them. I was reminded of how high-end recipes can be remarkably resource-intensive: removing the cores from the carrots may make for a better final product, but it also produces a lot of waste. In future, I’ll probably leave the cores in, and see how it goes.

The soup was every bit as delicious as I’d been led to believe, with a wide range of carrot flavour from the deep caramel of the pressure-cooked carrots to the lighter notes of the juice. The texture is like silk, although I would caution you to avoid adding all the carrot juice at once; instead, add it incrementally until you get a texture you like. For that matter, you could even add just enough to loosen it into an intensely flavoured caramelized carrot puree.

Of course, now I’m curious what other vegetables would benefit from being pressure-cooked for soup like this. Carrots have two things going for them: high water content, and high sugar content. Would beets work the same way? How about squash?

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