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Thursday, October 15, 2009


i love the carrot scene at the farmers markets (or "carrost," as we call them, thanks to a canadian animated short called "the big snit"). nothing quite says "fresh from the farm" like dirty carrots all heaped up on tables with their feathery green plumes still attached. before i developed a borderline unhealthy obsession with farmers markets, i saw carrots as largely utilitarian. i used them for soup stocks, in chicken pie and beef stew, that kind of thing. i never thought of them as particularly special or exciting. i had no idea how many varieties were out there, or how beautiful they could be outside of that plastic bag being spritzed with safeway-generated "morning dew" every 4 minutes, or whittled down into cute uniform sizes with a lathe and labeled "baby." they come in incredible colors and patterns-- orange, red, yellow, purple, even speckled and striped. and they are all different shapes and sizes-- fat, skinny, stubby, or twisted where they grew around a rock in the soil. they hooked me. they dragged me in.

so, now that i had the carrots i had to figure out what to do with them. i wanted to give them more of a starring role than they would generally have in my kitchen (plus i didn't want purple soup stock) but wasn't in the mood to roast. hm.

well, they make a totally tasty snack. i'd compare the taste to those in the grocery, but i'd have to try them side by side. my taste buds don't have enough of a raw carrot memory for me to speak to the difference in taste. but i know this-- they look cooler. (aren't they gorgeous?)

they were pretty shredded for a green salad, but i was still lacking real inspiration for a dish. then it occurred to me, admittedly mostly out of curiosity about what color it would be, that the carrots would make a fun soup. and since i had a baseball sized chunk of butternut squash in the fridge, it got thrown in the pot too.

carrot and butternut squash soup
(serves 2)

4 small to medium carrots, chopped into 1/2 coins
1 cup butternut squash, peeled and cubed about the same size as the carrots
1/2 small sweet onion, chopped
3 cups chicken or veggie broth
1/4-1/2 tsp allspice
1/4-1/2 tsp ground cardamom
grating of nutmeg
pinch salt

cook onion in soup pot in olive oil until softened. add carrots and squash and saute 5 minutes. add broth and simmer until veggies are softened, about 30 minutes. remove soup to blender and puree until completely smooth.

return to pot and begin adding spices. i don't remember how much of anything i added-- the 1/4-1/2 tsp is my best guess! i added a small amount of allspice and cardamom and tasted, adding tiny bits more until it seemed right. then grated in a little nutmeg for good measure. i believe i also added a pinch or two of salt.

this was a good soup! rob liked it better than i did-- i prefer savory flavors to the earthiness of allspice and cardamom, but those flavors worked great with the carrots and squash. and it did turn out to be quite a curious color-- purplish brown with an orange tint. who knew such a color even existed?

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