Nearly all root vegetables make excellent soups as they puree well and have an earthy flavour, which complements the sharper flavours of herbs and spices. Carrots are particularly versatile, and this simple soup is elegant in both flavour and appearance.

450 g/l lb carrots, preferably young and tender
15 ml/1 tbsp Sunflower oil
40 g/ 1 1/2 oz/3 tbsp Butter
1 Onion, chopped
1 stick celery, plus 2-3 pale leafy celery tops
2 small potatoes, peeled
1 litre/ 1 1/4 pints/4 cups Vegetable stock
10-15 ml/2-3 tsp ground Coriander
15 ml/ 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
200 mi/7 fl oz/7/8 cup Milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Serves 4-6
Trim and peel the carrots and cut into chunks. Heat the oil and 25 g/ 1 oz/2 tbsp butter in a large flameproof casserole or heavy-based saucepan and fry the onion over a gentle heat for 3-4 minutes, until slightly softened.
Reduce the heat even further and sweat for about 10 minutes. Shake the pan or stir occasionally so the vegetables do not stick to the base.
Add the stock and bring to the boil. Half cover the pan and simmer for a further 8-10 minutes until the carrots and potatoes are tender.
Slice the celery and chop the potatoes. Add them to the onion in the pan, cook for a few minutes and then add the carrots Fry over a gentle heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring, and then cover.
Remove 6-8 tiny celery leaves for garnish and finely chop the remaining celery tops (about 15 ml/ I tbsp once chopped). Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan and fry the ground coriander for about I minute, stirring constantly.
Reduce the heat and add the chopped celery tops and fresh coriander and fry for about 1 minute. Set aside.
Process the soup in a food processor or blender and pour into a clean saucepan. Stir in the milk and coriander mixture. Season, heat gently, taste and adjust seasoning. Serve garnished with the reserved celery leaves.

COOK'S TIP
For a more piquant flavour, add a little Lemon juice just before serving