Carrot Spiced Soup

Growing up in a rural area of New Hampshire (our town had no stoplights) we were not exactly a culinary destination. However, tucked away near my town was a little restaurant and shop called Pickety Place. With a five course menu that changed on a monthly basis,  we would all sit around the table looking through their newsletter and try to decide which months looked the most delicious. Reservations were made in advance, with 3 timed lunch seatings you didn't just show up. We'd get there early and check out the little shops, picking up dip mixes, candies, and Christmas ornaments. Then we'd go see the Little Red Riding Hood room (Pickety was used as the illustration inspiration for an original edition of the book). At our designated time a dinner bell would ring and we would all be seated in the dining room which felt like another world. It was warm and cozy and smelled like the inside of an apple pie. Food has always been a passion of mine and my taste runs right in line with Pickety's farm fresh herb infused cooking. Sipping spice tea and oohing and ahhing over the courses as they came out and picking out the different herb flavors made me feel very grown up and is a happy childhood memory.

Around twelve I started cooking more and more at home I was given some Pickety cookbooks. Every Christmas or birthday I would proudly present my grandmother with a certificate for a 5 course Pickety meal. I would menu plan and go down and stay with her and spend all day in the kitchen.

The farm was abundant with carrots this year and I decided carrot soup was the perfect vehicle for them. This recipe is inspired by a Pickety carrot soup I had. It was creamy and delicious but still light tasting and I was surprised that it was due to the use of nonfat dried milk as the cream element. I bought dried milk for the first time ever years ago to make their soup and it has been a staple in my kitchen ever since. I use it almost exclusively in my cooking and baking because it is far cheaper than regular milk and takes up much less space.

The spice I use in this is Teeny Tiny Spice Company's Persian Adwiya. It's a local Vermont made product and we started carrying it at the roasters on our Vermont products wall. My boss gave it to me as a gift and when I opened it and smelled it I knew it had to go in this soup. One of my other major culinary influences was my father. He would cook Persian stews when we were little that would simmer all day and make the house smell amazing. If this spice mixture isn't for you substitute in a little bit of ginger, cinnamon, or nutmeg. It makes the soup a rainy day treat.

Carrot Spiced Soup
(serves 6-8)

2 TBS olive oil
2 lbs of carrots, peeled and sliced thin
2 large onions, peeled and sliced thin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 can of ginger ale (Vernor's is highly recommended- it's important that it's spicy and strong)
2 TBS of Teeny Tiny Spice Co's Persian Adwiya (it contains rose petals, cinnamon, lemon zest, coriander, cumin, orange zest, nutmeg, cardamon, peppercorn and Himalayan pink salt)
3 cups of broth (I used Vegetarian Powdered broth mix because that's what I had on hand)
1 cup nonfat dried milk

1. In a saucepan, saute the carrots and onions in the olive oil. Stir occasionally and let them cook for about 10-15 minutes until the carrots are soft. Add the salt & pepper to the carrot onion mixture.

2. In a food processor or blender puree the carrots and onions. I prefer a creamy soup so I puree all of the carrots and onions but you can reserve some to add back into the soup whole if you prefer more texture.

3. Pour the puree back into your pan and add a can of ginger ale. The bite from the ginger ale adds a nice dimension to the soup and takes it into "meal" territory. Add the broth and spices and stir until mixed. Simmer the soup for 10 minutes.

4. After 10 minutes add in the 1 cup of nonfat dried milk and stir. Continue to simmer. After about 3-5 minutes you'll notice the that milk is "foaming" up through the top of the soup as it combines with the soda. Stir it gently and simmer for 10 additional minutes.

5. Serve with bread or croutons if desired and enjoy it!

Note: I frequently freeze this soup. I do snack sized Ziplocs frozen flat for quick meals for myself and gallon sized Ziplocs frozen flat for quick dinners. You can either take out the bag and transfer it to the fridge the night before to thaw or you can warm it in a bowl of hot water until it's soft enough to pour into a pan to heat.

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