Last Thursday evening we arrived fashionably late for open house at Fiona’s school. Yes, my little babe is off to school. Eek, I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. It’s only pre-kindergarten. It’s only two days a week. Breathe. My heart aches with grief and beams with pride all at the same time, but I am excited for her because she is excited. Do you have kids starting school this year? Can you relate? I could only marvel as she explored her classroom, introduced herself to new classmates, and found her name tag and cubby by herself. She is understandably timid with her new teachers, but I suspect in a couple weeks she’ll warm up. She was certainly not shy when it came to exploring the darling playground they have just outside. Her school’s philosophy is very nature oriented, so the playground follows suit. Most of the playground is canopied within a bungalow of trees. It’s humble and sweet: a spider swing, a climbing wall, and a tire trail. There are tomato and cucumber plants (which I didn’t notice until Fiona pointed them out to me), an herb garden, and plenty of space to run around. She was sad when it came time to leave and to cheer her up we stopped at our local market and I let her pick out a small treat. We also picked up our first pumpkin of the season (I do think she was more excited about the pumpkin than the treat!) I knew I had to make pumpkin carrot soup.
Fall is closing in on us and I’m not mad about it. I can feel it in the early morning hours. The sun no longer greets us at 5am, but peeks above the horizon closer to 6, casting a warmth against the early morning chill. I like dark, cold mornings- the house is cozy and peaceful. While my biggest inspiration is the changing of the seasons, fall has a special place in my heart. It is pumpkins. It is school supplies. It’s halloween and homemade caramel. Apple picking and cider pressing. Fiery, crinkly leaves. Sweaters. It’s the cozy season. How do you feel about fall? What’s your favorite part? I do all of the fall things, and fall foods are usually at the top of the list. I know my kids are especially excited to visit the apple orchard this year. Apples are always in large supply in our house during September and October and I’m anxious to try out new recipes. I don’t entirely have a handle on gluten free baking, but I’m getting better and the discouragement is starting to wane a little. I’m looking forward to mastering gluten free pastry, so lots of tarts and pot pies will be making an appearance this season. The morning after picking up our pumpkin, I got straight to work on roasting it. The smell filled the house with an aroma of warmth that lingered in our stairwell into the late morning. Roman and Amelia were as excited as pre-teens can be about a pumpkin, though I think it was an unwelcome reminder that they, too, would be starting school soon. They are homeschooled and we have a big year planned. Soon we’ll be back to morning chess games, regular library visits and music lessons. Summer in Maine is coming to a close, and we will have pumpkin carrot soup to comfort us. Like I said, I’m not mad about it.
It’s been a few seasons since I’ve made this soup, but it came out as delicious as I remember. I love that a simple pumpkin can inspire a beautiful soup, which can then turn into a warm, bubbly, memorable evening with family… which then shapes lifelong memories. This is why I love to cook. I bought a baguette for the kids to pair with the soup, and had gluten free bread myself. I’m still working on mastering gluten free baguettes. It’s a recipe I’ve been toying around with and haven’t yet perfected or made enough times to be confident about it. Over pumpkin soup, bread, and a light salad, we played Cards Against Humanity (the family version) and listened to Madeleine Peyroux. It was a fun evening. For this recipe you can use homemade pumpkin puree if you prefer to roast your own pumpkin, but the recipe is perfectly delicious with canned puree. Do you prefer to roast your own pumpkins or buy canned? I grew up on canned pumpkin and it never occurred to me I could even roast my own until I was in my late 20’s. What a revelation! Now I prefer to roast them, but keep canned pumpkin in the cabinet just in case. For this pumpkin carrot soup recipe, I would normally use a splash of cream, however, I omitted the cream because Isla is too young to have cream. If you have no problems with dairy, I suggest adding a 1/4-1/2 cup of cream into the soup just after pureeing it. Alternatively, coconut milk can be used and is also delicious.
Pumpkin Carrot Soup
- 4 tbsp Olive oil
- 2 large Onions
- 1/2 head Garlic (about 4-5 cloves)
- 6-8 Medium Carrots diced
- 4 Cups (about 2 cans) Freshly roasted or canned pumpkin puree
- 4 cups Chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup Heavy cream (optional)
- 1/4 cup apple cider (optional, but delicious)
- pinch nutmeg
- salt and pepper (to taste)
If you want to roast your own pumpkin
- Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
- Cut a pumpkin in half, don't bother to scoop out the seeds.
- Place both pumpkin halves in a large roasting pan and drizzle the inside and outside skin with olive oil.
- Place the pumpkin halves face down (so you can't see the seeds) in the roasting pan.
- Roast for approximately one hour, or until they feel soft and a fork pokes through them quite easily.
- Allow them to cool, then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and discard them.
- Scoop out the pumpkin and use a blender or food processor to blend it into a smooth puree. Use immediately, or store in the fridge for later use up to 5 days.
Pumpkin Carrot Soup
- Chop the onion and garlic and saute in a large pot over low heat for 10 minutes. We want these to caramelize, so stir every so often and let them brown slightly but not burn, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the diced carrots and stir into the onions and garlic. Saute another 5-6 minutes.
- Pour in the stock and then turn the heat up and allow it to come to a boil. Boil the vegetables for about 4-5 minutes, allowing the carrots to soften.
- Next we will puree the soup so it has a beautiful, smooth consistency. Turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool for 10-15 minutes. Then pour the contents of the soup into the blender. Blend on high for about 30 seconds, or until everything is smoothly pureed. Alternatively, you can use a stick blender to puree everything smoothly. Return the entire stock/vegetable puree back into the pot and turn on low/simmer.
- Add two teaspoons of salt, or more as needed. Add a small pinch of pepper (I prefer to use white pepper here because it blends in visually), a small pinch of nutmeg, and the apple cider. Lastly add the heavy cream and stir well. Allow to simmer another 10-15 minutes, and serve hot. You can also store this in the fridge for about 5 days, or up to 2 months in the freezer.
–Do you have kids starting school this year? Is it bittersweet for you, too?
-How do you feel about fall? What’s your favorite part of it?
-Do you prefer to roast your own pumpkin or buy canned puree?