September. These are the last fleeting days of summer and the return of the crispness of autumn, not to mention the kids to school!
For me, September brings to mind scarves and warm coats, piles of newly yellowed leaves, wood smoke hanging in the air like unspoken words and an end to the bounty of summer harvests; now is the time to be canning, freezing and otherwise preserving all of the best summer has to offer.
Not to be outdone by it’s summer seasonal counterpart though, there is much that is in season in September, including apples, pears, potatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, figs and of course, carrots.
Uncomplicated and easy to prepare, carrots are something everyone uses but don’t often think of as much of a star ingredient. They are usually thought of as a side dish or a background flavor, are always at the center of mirepoix (the aromatics forming the base of most soups, stocks and sauces, at least in French cuisine), and are often served raw on top of salads.
What many people don’t realize, however, is that carrots have a sweet flavor profile and when roasted, their natural sugars are enhanced dramatically giving them a caramelized, deep flavor and a wonderful meaty texture when made into purées for soups, such as this one.Photo by Elizabeth Nyland
Roasted Carrot & Cilantro Soup
While carrots are often paired with dill, cumin or coriander, I prefer to hold on to summer flavors and pair my carrots with cilantro. The fresh taste of the cilantro brings a nice rounded taste to this dish and it is hearty enough to be its own meal or be paired with a nice light salad for a quick dinner.
It also freezes quite well in small batches and can last up to three months in a deep freeze.
- 2 lbs carrots, peeled and uniformly sliced
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp veg oil
- 6 small new or nugget potatoes, about 2/3 lb (Use only waxy varieties)
- 2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup cilantro (lightly packed)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss sliced carrots in 2 tsp vegetable oil, salt, pepper and cumin. Roast in the center of your oven for 30 minutes, turning once during cooking. Remove when slightly caramelized or blackened. Set aside.
- In heavy bottomed saucepan, sauté onion on medium heat in 2 tbsp of oil. Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into large chunks.
- Once onions have turned slightly translucent, add potatoes and sauté for about 10 minutes.
- Add the stock and turn the heat up to high. Once boiling, lower to a simmer.
- Keep simmering until the potatoes are almost done (about 10-15 minutes), then add the roasted carrots. Cook just enough to bring the carrots up to temperature, then remove from heat.
- Pour soup into blender or food processor in batches (or use an immersion blender). Add in your cilantro at this point as well. Blend it all up until it’s as smooth as you like.
- Return soup to saucepan and reheat.
- Serve with crusty bread for dipping and even a swirl of sour cream or crème fraîche.
Photo by Elizabeth Nyland
Photo by Elizabeth Nyland
To Freeze: Allow soup to cool completely. Ladle into freezer-safe containers or glass jars, taking care to leave enough headspace to allow for ice expansion. Close lids, label clearly with the date and place in the freezer.
To Thaw: Whenever possible, thaw soup overnight in the refrigerator. For a quicker thaw, place jar in tepid water and let stand at room temperature. Never pour hot water over your jar or it may crack.
So what’s your favorite thing about autumn? Does the humble carrot make it onto your table?