This past spring I started an indoor herb garden. French tarragon, sage, lavender, thyme and rosemary imported a Mediterranean viridity to my apartment. On sunny days when it wasn’t too humid, they took their efflorescent beauty alfresco. Whether perched upon my balcony ledge or through my living room window, they soaked up every bit of sunshine they could and flourished.
Toward the end of the summer I moved, which caused me a great deal of stress. Apparently my herbs weren’t too fond of moving either. One by one, they died…all except my resilient rosemary plant.
My tarragon was the last to leave. I thought she would make it. This was very upsetting as fresh tarragon is so expensive to buy in the store and hard to come by during the winter months. Although not as pricey, dried tarragon will still set you back a few dollars.
With its slightly sweet, licorice-like flavor, tarragon is truly a delightful herb, bringing a certain “je ne sais quois” to classic French fare. It startlingly heightens the flavor of poultry, fish and vegetables. Crisp white wine and vinegar are tarragon’s trusty companions, but the delicate herb can hold its own when paired with the bold flavors of citrus or mint.
Here, tarragon adds a refined depth to beta-carotene rich carrots. Honey and orange help tie things together, creating a soup that is great served warm or chilled.
Dried tarragon is no match for garden fresh, but if you’re like me and have trouble growing your own, or you just want to save money, the shelf-stable variety will work just fine. Just prepare to be heavy-handed, as I find fresh tarragon to be twice as strong as dried.
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 pounds of carrots, peeled and cut crosswise. (You can also substitute baby carrots. No judgement here.)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon OR 2 tablespoons of dried tarragon
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat.
- Add onion and cook for about 12-15 minutes, without browning it. You want the onion to be almost translucent.
- Add the carrots, tarragon and orange zest. Generously season with salt and pepper.
- Raise the heat to medium and cook the carrots for two minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add 1/2 cup of water and cover the pot. Allow the carrots to cook for 15 minutes more.
- Remove the cover and add 4 3/4 cups of water. Reduce the heat slightly and return the cover to the pot. Cook for 30-35 minutes more.
- Using a blender, puree the soup in batches until velvety smooth.
- Return the pureed soup to the pot and add the orange juice and honey. Cook over low heat about 2 minutes longer.
- Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper and a pinch of tarragon if desired.