“i said to my soul
be still
so the darkness
shall be the
and the stillness

t. s. eliot

Winter has always seemed to me to be a season of waiting. Maybe that’s why I’ve struggled to like it. All season long, we wait for the days to lengthen again, the sun to shine again, the weather to warm again. We don our heavy coats and rugged boots and trudge through gray days and cold houses and cracking skin. We remember the fresh fruit of summer farmer’s markets and the warm light of balmy months, but we remember it faintly, in shadows, the way I imagine this world will someday be remembered when we are long from it, too. And then, just when it seems we will never see sunshine again, we will never put away our coats again, we will never go for long walks just to soak up the sky, Nashville goes and pulls a stunning Sunday like yesterday and gives weather forecasts in the 50s and 60s this week. It’s striking how much and how often my soul yearns for light—the light of honesty, the light of daytime, the Light of the World—and it’s striking how standing in that longed-for brightness, open and exposed and seen, changes everything, absolutely everything, that I can feel and see. I told Tim yesterday I wish it were daytime all the time, and then I thought, someday it will be. I am writing these thoughts from a living room sofa enveloped in late afternoon February sunshine, leaves blowing outside the windows, wind hollowing like an old woman laughing at a joke. I look at these photos of bright carrot soup, made of vegetables grown deep in darkness, underground, then pulled and torn out of the earth into light. I look at that vibrant orange color, so alive and electric, such a contrast to the dark background against which it’s placed: Light and darkness all around us, metaphorically and literally, all the time.

Velvet Carrot Soup with Amaretti Crumble


Serving Size: 4 to 6 servings

Velvet Carrot Soup with Amaretti Crumble

This recipe is adapted from Paul Gayler's Great Homemade Soups book, where he refers to it as a sort of soup version of squash-filled ravioli. Given our current carrot fascination, we've swapped in carrots, and given that we had fresh thyme on hand, we've used that instead of Paul's sage. Where he wowed us, however, was in this soup's texture, blended in a Vitamix and then strained through a fine sieve. So soft and silky! It's like velvet.


  • 2 tablespoons (25 g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (188 g) chopped onions
  • 6 thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) slivered blanched almonds
  • 1.3 quarts (1.5 liters) chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup (100 ml) whole milk or cream
  • To garnish:
  • A few handfuls (50 g) amaretti cookies (available at specialty grocers or, around here, at TJ Maxx)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino cheese


In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat butter until fully melted and hot. Add onion and thyme, and cook for 10 minutes, until onion is soft and translucent. Add carrots, almonds, and stock, and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until carrots are soft.

Transfer mixture to a high-speed blender, food processor, or Vitamix. Blend until super smooth. Because the mixture practically filled the Vitamix, I found it crucial to strain the mixture through a sieve back into the stockpot, reblending in the Vitamix everything that couldn't go through the sieve. Don't skip this step! It is key to the velvet texture.

Once all soup mixture is smooth, return it all to the stockpot, add milk or cream, and bring mixture back to a boil over medium heat. Divide soup among bowls, and sprinkle amaretti cookie crumbles and Pecorino cheese as a garnish. Serve hot.


ps - I remember vividly when I started to understand recipes as formulas rather than regulations, and, if you're the type who likes to understand recipes this way, too, the formula for a good homemade cream soup is this: fat + onions (+ herbs, maybe), sauteed in a pot until translucent; stock and chopped vegetable added and cooked until soft; everything pureéd; everything strained through a sieve so it's super smooth; some milk or cream; some garnishes; bam.

*We received a review copy of Paul’s book, from which this recipe is adapted.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Alanna

    That photo of black-clad arms around orange soup is absolutely stunning. What a beautiful looking soup. I love the idea of thyme against silky carrot puree against crispy sweet amaretti and salty pecorino. Yowza. I feel the same way about the light. I don’t mind the cold so much, but those dark days in December are always rough ones.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Thanks so much, Alanna!

  2. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    Love the slideshow of photos. This soup sounds awesome!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Thanks, Katrina! Our first slideshow! : )

  3. Bethany

    ‘Formula rather than regulations’ – yes! Thanks for the tip. I love when cooking and baking becomes about the methodology and the texture of the food versus digits and measurements. This looks delightful; something to look forward to while we wait :)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Thanks, sweet Bethany!

  4. Kathryn

    I love the idea of a velvety smooth soup; sometimes you want a bit of texture in there but sometimes you just want that silkiness and this sounds just perfect for that.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Right? I couldn’t believe how much the straining changed it. Silky smooth!

  5. Sini | my blue&white kitchen

    Oh my… These pictures are just perfect. I think I lost my heart to the last one. So, so gorgeous. And then the Eliot quote and this recipe. Yes, this post is a stunner.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      You’re so kind! Thank you, Sini!

  6. cheri

    Beautiful post and pics, Shanna. So glad you had your sunny Sunday!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Thanks, Cheri! And what’s even better is that we had another one today. Oh, I love the sun.

  7. Amy

    Hi Tim and Shanna – I love the new layout of your site and these pictures, wow, they are so moody and stunning! I mean “moody” in a good, dark, and mysterious way! I am making this carrot soup today…

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Aw, thanks, Amy! I hope you enjoy it!

  8. Ashley Rodriguez

    Everything about this is stunning. Light and darkness all together. It’s hard to strike the balance where the coexist in a pleasing sort of a way. But I guess that’s sort of the point – the darkness is never meant to satisfy but just remind us that the light is coming.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Well said.

  9. felicia | Dish by Dish

    Shanna, this post is just short, sweet & beautiful. I’ve missed reading your writing in the past 2 weeks – I was on a short holiday with Juan in Brazil, and now that I’m back to daily life & resuming normal habits, I’ve realized that reading your voice is one of those things that brings a smile to my day! Lovely, lovely post!

    sending love and hope the warm weather stays!


    1. Shanna Mallon

      That encourages me, F. I know sometimes reading a blog that brings a smile to my face is a major bright spot in my day! It’s so nice to think we can do that for other people here.

  10. Pingback: Creamy Red Roasted Beet Soup / | Food Loves Writing / Real Food Recipes

  11. Laura

    Shanna, another amazing dish. My husband and I devoured this soup last night. It reminded us both of our all-time favorite Curry Carrot soup that we had at a French restaurant (I know…curry carrot at a French restaurant). I was tempted to add curry to it but left it as is and was so happy I did. Velvet, YES! Thank you.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Hooray! So glad to hear it, Laura. Thanks for coming back to say so. : )

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