Creamy Chicken-Tarragon Soup

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 large carrots, scraped and diced

2 large ribs celery, diced

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoons dried tarragon

1 teaspoon dried thyme

few shakes cayenne pepper, optional

1/4 cup butter

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 32-oz cartons chicken broth (8 cups)

2 cups 2% or whole milk

2 small russet potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cups cooked, diced chicken

1. Heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes. Add the tarragon, thyme, and cayenne pepper. Continue cooking and stirring until the vegetables are tender and starting to brown, about 5 more minutes. You will notice brown stuff sticking to the bottom of the pan. This is fond. Fond is good. The more browning you have, the deeper the flavor and darker the color of the finished soup.

2. Add the butter and let it melt. Add the flour and stir until everything is coated. Cook, stirring often for 3-4 more minutes.

3. Being very careful of the steam, add one of the cartons of chicken broth, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula to get up all the browned bits. Add the remaining carton of broth and the milk, and stir well to dissolve all of the flour (sometimes I need to use a whisk to loosen up everything). Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a low boil, stirring often.

4. Add the potatoes and adjust the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender and the soup has thickened, 5-8 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer for a few more minutes to heat it through.

Makes about 3 quarts of soup.