Shopper Kitchen: Cooking and the colors of Fall

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By Angela McRae, The Shopper Kitchen

Fall is one of my favorite times to cook. I’ve already made my first pot of chili, and I’m pulling out my back issues of fall magazines to see if perchance there’s a pumpkin spice recipe I haven’t tried yet. (Tip: Add a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to your favorite shortbread recipe. You won’t regret it!)

Some of my favorite fall foods feature fall colors. I like the golden hue of butternut squash soup, the earthy brown of pumpkin bread, and the light gold of maple fudge. No color says fall to me, however, like orange, and orange also happens to be the color of one of the prettiest, tastiest soups I’ve ever made.

Years ago, I visited the charming Ozark Mountain town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a storybook town if ever there was one. It’s brimming with Victorian homes, and a lover of all things Victorian would surely enjoy a visit. Later, I came across a cookbook from a circa 1879 building that I don’t recall seeing on that trip but wish I had—the Victorian Sampler Tearoom. I bought the cookbook since it brought back fond memories of Eureka Springs, and the Victorian Sampler’s Carrot Soup recipe immediately caught my eye since it was labeled the “most requested soup recipe” there.

Now I should mention that the book suggests you puree this soup in a blender or food mill. I used my food processor instead and loved the result. Instead of being completely liquefied, the soup has tiny specks of carrot, and once I sampled it, I liked it that way. So did my husband, and we agreed that this soup doesn’t taste too carrot-y at all and deserves a name more exotic than simply Carrot Soup. And while I know that grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup are famous as a pairing, I believe this carrot soup would be a fine substitute for the tomato one.

This soup may be served in teacups for a fun presentation, but please don’t limit it to teatime—this rich, hearty soup definitely belongs on your fall table.

Creamy Carrot Soup

3 tablespoons butter, divided use
3/4 cup onion, chopped
3 cups carrots, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons plain uncooked rice
Salt and white pepper, to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook for several minutes, until soft but not brown. Add carrots, chicken stock, tomato paste and rice. Simmer for 30 minutes. Puree the soup (in a blender or food processor) until smooth, then season as desired and stir in cream and remaining tablespoon of butter. Garnish with carrot curls. Serves 6.

Carrot curls: After rinsing and peeling carrots, use a vegetable peeler to shave off a few thin strips of carrot. Simply roll them into spirals and plop them into your soup. These are some of the easiest garnishes you will ever make!

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