Harissa Roasted Carrots

I was home alone this weekend (not creepy to write that now, the time has passed! Although I started watching Luther this weekend so was thoroughly terrified the whole time haha – we’ll save that one for another post). With so much time to myself, the cooking plans were pretty through the roof. I also find that when I’m just cooking for myself, I prefer to cook side dishes and just nibble / graze my way through the day rather than making a big main meal.

This carrot dish popped up on my Instagram feed (from @crowdedkitchen) in the last week or so and just knew I had to have it! With a base of the Pumpkin Sage Hummus from my last post, it’s an exceedingly simple recipe and the flavors of the pumpkin hummus, the bold harissa spices, the refreshing pomegranate seeds, and the snap from the nuts is just amazing and oh-so-fresh.

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In case anyone had the same question as me: what is harissa?

According to the Kitchn, “Harissa is a spice blend widely used in North African and Middle Eastern cooking (there is also a harissa paste). The recipes vary between countries and regions, but a standard version includes a blend of hot chile peppers (which are often smoked), garlic, olive oil and spices, like cumin, coriander, caraway and mint. Tomatoes and rose petals are also common ingredients.”

I bought a spice blend mix at the grocery store, but you could conceivably mix your own as well.

One of the many things I love about this recipe (oh yes, I will absolutely be making it again) is that it would really be appropriate any time of year. It would be an amazing Thanksgiving side dish, but doesn’t have to be relegated to just that.

Try it out and let me know what you think! And now that I have a Harissa spice mix, do you have any other Harissa recipes that you know and love? I would love to try them!

You can find the full Harissa Carrots recipe here.

xx Jess

 

Butternut Squash & Carrot Soup

Fall sweeps into Chicago quickly, but it’s also pretty fickle (you know, the kind of fall where you have rainy 50 degree days but also still some 70 degree days, although I think those are fading fast) and I am so ready for fall foods! I have been feeling soups lately and think it’ll be a season of lots of soups at our house, so I got started this week with a Butternut Squash Soup.

DSC_0330My mom was never someone that would follow a recipe and to be honest, it used to drive me crazy! I’m starting to understand the beauty in it and soups are probably the easiest place to get away with not having a recipe. So here is my best interpretation of the soup that we made. It’s incredibly flexible and soup is so forgiving, so if there is something that you want more or less of, or if you have some veggie leftovers in your fridge, throw them in! Every variation will be slightly different but all excellent!

Butternut Squash & Carrot Soup

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed

2 cups carrots, peeled and cubed

5 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon cumin

1 cup coconut milk

  1. In a large pan over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic until fragrant and clear, stirring frequently for approximately 3-5 minutes. Add the turmeric and cumin and stir for 1 minute.
  2. Add the butternut squash, sweet potato, and carrots. Add chicken broth (there is definitely leeway here – make sure that the vegetables are fully covered in broth. If you prefer a thinner soup, add more broth; if you prefer a thicker soup, add less broth) and stir. Add salt and pepper
  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer with a lid on the pot for approximately 35 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Remove from heat. Remove center from blender lid to allow steam to escape. Divide the soup into two batches and blend each until smooth. Combine blended soup in a large bowl.
  5. Add coconut milk and stir to incorporate. Option to add additional salt and pepper to taste.

I topped the soup off with some homemade croutons and pepitas for a little crunch. To make the croutons, simply dice bread of your choice (1-2 days old, and a little hard will be best). Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic (or any seasonings of your choice) and roast on a pan in the oven at 375 degrees for approximately 10-15 minutes, turning halfway through. Good news, once the croutons have cooled, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks (if you can keep them that long!).

And ta-da! You have an easy, interchangeable soup (and croutons) recipe that you can always pull out of your back pocket. The beauty is that it will be different every time (try it with different veggies, or different spices – a sweeter nutmeg / cinnamon version would be nice, or you could go with a more savory version and add celery and bell peppers). It’s perfect for those cold, rainy Saturdays or if you’re looking to make a week of soup to have with sandwiches for lunch.

Another tip – if it’s just me and I don’t want to eat a whole pot of soup over the course of a week, I will freeze it in muffin tins. Once frozen solid, you can pop them out of the tin and save in a freezer bag. I’ll then reheat 2-3 “pucks” for a hot bowl whenever I want one!

Happy cooking!

xx Jess