Carrot soup

(Pat Greenhouse/ Globe Staff)
September 17, 2008
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Serves 6

Some vegetables are distinct representatives of their season, such as asparagus in spring, tomatoes in summer, and parsnips in the dead of winter. Carrots, though, are so versatile they're comfortable in the kitchen any time of year. These tapered staples go any which way - as straight-up sticks in the lunch box, mixed into a slaw to offset a hunk of rich meat, glazed, braised, roasted - you name it. Here, the slender orange roots are simmered with potatoes and pureed into a smooth, satisfying soup. A trio of warm spices gives it an autumnal edge, and fresh herbs, pumpkin seeds, and vinegar offer a bright, crunchy zip. Add a wedge of whole grain bread and some sautéed greens to round out a meal that puts fall front and center. Even if the weather says otherwise.

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 cups chicken stock or water, or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Spread the pumpkin seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them for 10 minutes, tossing once or twice, or until they are golden; set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until the onions soften without browning. Stir in the cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until the spices are fragrant.

3. Add the carrots, potatoes, stock or water, salt, and pepper. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add the bay leaves, and cover the pan. Simmer the soup for 25 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

4. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Return it to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper, if you like. If the soup is too thick, stir in a little more stock or water.

5. In a small bowl, toss together the pumpkin seeds, parsley, dill, cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each with the pumpkin seed mixture. - Leigh Belanger

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