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Zuppa di Carote
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4 tablespoons extra-light olive oil
1/4 pound slab bacon, with the rind removed, cut in 1/4-inch dice
1 white onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch slices
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup sherry, port or Marsala wine
6 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup sour cream, for garnish
6 small sprigs fresh dill, cut in small pieces for garnish
In a stockpot, heat the extra-light olive oil over high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring well, until nicely browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel and set aside.
Add the onion, garlic, carrots, thyme and red pepper flakes to the pot. Continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring well, until the onions begin to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and stir well to dislodge the brown bits at the bottom of the pot. Cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring well every 15 minutes. Add the soup, in batches, to a food processor and process it to a smooth, cream-like consistency. Place the soup back in the stockpot and keep warm.
Serve the soup in bowls and decorate the top with a light drizzle of sour cream, sprigs of fresh dill and the reserved pieces of browned bacon.
For a more elegant finish, use a squirt bottle to decorate the top of each bowl of soup with concentric circles of sour cream. Then score the circles at equal intervals with the tip of a paring knife's blade, moving from the rim of the bowl inward. This will create a very elegant design.
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