One of the things I love about French family cooking is the simplicity of the ingredients. Often, French dishes use only one main ingredient, and rely on simple but subtle preparation to bring out the flavors. As a result, the meals eaten by French families are often quick and easy to prepare.
Here’s one example: Simple Carrot Soup. One of the nice things about this soup is that the preparation time is literally only 5 minutes (although the soup will take another 15 minutes to cook). While the soup is cooking, you can set the table, slice bread, prepare a salad (or, if you’re like me, get distracted by whatever book you happen to be reading).
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 lbs carrots
4 cups of water
salt to taste
1 tsp dried parsley and/or dill (optional)
Saute chopped onion at low temperature for at least 5 minutes, or until golden. (This is the secret of the soup! So don’t rush.)
Add carrots (I buy organic ones, and admit that I don’t even bother peeling them), raise the temperature to medium-high heat, and saute for 2 minutes.
Add water. Cook at a gentle rolling boil until carrots are soft (about 8 to 10 minutes). Remove from heat, add herbs, and puree until smooth. If you like a thinner soup, add more water until it’s just right.
My daughters like this served hot, with a small dollop of butter. I don’t salt this soup, as I find the sweet flavor of the carrots speaks for itself. If you do want salt, just sprinkle a bit on the soup once served in individual bowls; you’ll find that a little goes a long way.