Holiday Carrot Soup

2 Tbls cooking oil
¾ cup onion, chopped
1 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped
½ apple, cored, peeled, and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp ground cardamom
3-4 cups chicken broth
4 Tbls butter
¾ tsp vanilla extract
Salt to taste
Sour cream or heavy cream (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring. Add the apple, garlic, and cardamom and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring. Add the broth, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook until carrots are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in butter, vanilla, and salt. Puree with a handheld blender or in a regular blender after cooling slightly. Serve hot with an optional spoonful of cream in each bowl. Serves 2-4.