Cream of Carrot & Tomato Soup

Cream of Carrot & Tomato Soup
Southern Living

2 pounds baby carrots
½ cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter or margarine
2 celery ribs, diced
1 medium size sweet onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth
2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 vegetable bullion cubes
4 cups half & half

Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a saucepan.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. (Do not drain)

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add diced celery and next 4 ingredients, and saute until tender.  Stir in flour; cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes.  Gradually stir in chicken broth; cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Add carrots with cooking liquid, tomatoes, and bouillon cubes; cook over low heat, stirring occasionaly, 15 minutes.  Cool slightly.

Process carrot mixture, in batches in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down side; pour into a large Dutch oven.  Stir in half & half; cook over low heat, stirring often, 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Yield: 12 cups
Soup may be made a day ahead and refrigerated.  To reheat, cook over low heat, stirring often, just until thoroughly heated.