Creamy Carrot and Apple Soup

Carrot & Apple Soup

I was never really a big fan of soup until I started making it from scratch. The canned soup was OK when when I was sick or just wanted something I could prepare quickly, but I never truly savored the taste. Honestly, the best thing about Campbells is this cute commercial that airs at Christmas.

But since I’ve been learning more about real food, and how many benefits there are in homemade broth, I’ve worked on learning how to make soup from scratch. It’s taken some practice, but I can now make soup that is actually tasty. Soup that I look forward to eating and that puts the canned variety to shame. A homemade soup is part of my meal plan every couple weeks now, especially in the cooler weather. I love the variety of recipes out there and the freedom to experiment. Once you get used to making a few tried and true recipes, it’s quite easy to start branching out and creating your own unique soups.

This carrot apple soup is one of my favorites. It’s based on this recipe from the Back to Her Roots blog. I changed the spices to fit our preferences and traded the veggie stock for my homemade chicken broth. I use local produce when I can; my favorite combination so far is multi-colored carrots and sweet Jonathan apples. The result is a creamy, balanced flavor that smells amazing while it simmers and tastes like the best of fall in a bowl. It’s warm and hearty, perfect paired with a sandwich for a winter dinner, but not too heavy for lunch on a warm autumn day. If you’re looking for a yummy soup, I hope you’ll enjoy this one!

Creamy Carrot & Apple Soup (adapted from Back to Her Roots)

Yield: 2-3 servings

  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Small pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 small/medium apples (Jonathan, Gala, or your favorite), peeled, cored and chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp. dried herbs de Provence
  • 1 dried Turkish bay leaf
  • 2 cups chicken broth (homemade if possible)
  • 1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
  • Heavy cream to garnish, optional

In a large saucepan, or stockpot, melt the butter and add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and onion. Saute for a few minutes, until fragrant.

Add the carrots and apples and cook, stirring frequently, until the everything begins to soften, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the broth, seasonings, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the carrots are very tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Keep the lid slightly askew so some steam can escape, and stir occasionally.

Once the apples and carrots are tender, remove the bay leaf. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the milk and return to medium-low heat to warm through.

Serve hot with desired sides. I love garnishing each bowl with a drizzle of heavy cream.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Apple Pie Bars

20110811-082327.jpg

The last couple of mornings I have really started to notice that the days are getting shorter. The sun is rising later and that means summer is on its way out and autumn is coming. Big Man couldn’t be happier since he loves autumn and winter. He’s all about the cold weather and snow and lack of sunlight. I’m not as big a fan, but I am excited for the weather to start cooling off. And autumn does mean fun things like sweaters and boots. And pretty leaves. And boots. And baking with all those warm, homey flavors like cinnamon and cloves and nutmeg. Did I mention boots? All right, I guess I’m ok with autumn.

So in celebration of the coming of autumn, I made these apple pie bars. I was looking for something apple-y and more interesting than traditional pie when I came across this recipe on the cookiesandcups site. Pie in bar form? With an icing drizzle? And an excuse to eat more sugary cereal that I already do? Sign me up.20110811-082348.jpg

These bars are definitely more labor intensive than my berry pie bars. In fact, I’m not sure I saved any time at all over making an actual apple pie. But these were totally worth it.  They were so yummy and really tasted exactly like apple pie. It was fun to have all those apple pie flavors in an easy-to-eat bar and the addition of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and icing really put it over the top.

Celebrate autumn with me.  Make these soon. If for no other reason than to have an excuse to buy more Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

I halved the original recipe and used an 8×11 glass pan. Here is my adaptation of the original recipe.

Crust

1 1/4 cups flour
pinch salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into small chunks
1 eggs separated, keep both parts
1/3 cup whole milk

In a bowl, mix the flour and salt, then cut in the butter with a pastry cutter. Whisk the egg yolk and add half of it to the milk. Add the egg and milk to the bowl and mix with your hands until a dough forms (it will be sticky). Separate into two halves, flatten each into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Filling

1 scant cup Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
3-4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced thinly
1/2 cup powdered sugar
dash cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush the cereal into fine crumbs (I put it in a Ziploc bag and used my hands to squish it around). Roll one of the dough disks into a 9×12 rectangle and place into baking dish, with dough coming up the sides about 3/4 inch. Pour the crushed cereal into an even layer on the dough. Top with an even layer of the apple slices, then mix the powdered sugar and cinnamon sprinkle over the apples. Roll out the other dough disk and place on top, sealing the edges with your fingers.

Topping

Reserved egg white
2 tbs sugar
dash cinnamon

Whisk the egg white in a bowl with a little bit of water. Brush about half of the egg onto the top crust and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar. Bake for about 45 minutes until crust is golden brown and apples are soft. Cool for 1 hour.

Icing

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbs milk

Whisk ingredients together and drizzle over bars. Let cool another 2 hours or until completely cool and enjoy!

20110811-082402.jpg