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Seasons’ Eatings: Roasted Carrot Soup with Artisan Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

2012 March 8

By Stephanie Tickner, with help from Cassidy and Jeremiah

Marlow, NH – Last winter when I participated in RecipeRelay, our corner of southwest New Hampshire was buried under several feet of snow. I thought how different this mild winter has been as my kids and I drove on the muddy dirt roads near our house. It seemed more like late March and maple sugaring season than February!

We were off for a day of shopping to find ingredients for this winter’s recipe. Since I still had a large bag of organic carrots from the Village Roots CSA from the fall, I was glad that Karleen’s crostini had continued with the carrot thread that has meandered through several of this winter’s recipes, including Valeria’s Carrot Greens Pesto and Red Cabbage Carrot Slaw, Sarah’s Shepherds Pie Redux, and then Karleen’s Honey Roasted Carrot Crostini. Despite the lack of snow, I still like comforting foods in the winter, so I settled on the idea of roasted carrot soup. To tie in with the bread and cheese that Karleen used, I thought fancy grilled cheese sandwiches would be the perfect accompaniment to serve with the soup.

CLICK HERE for the full post and recipe.

Our first stop was Orchard Hill Breadworks to buy some hearty artisan bread. We chose seeded French and seeded whole wheat, both made with all organic ingredients. The Breadworks also sells other locally produced organic foods including Sawyer’s Artisanal Cheese from Walpole, New Hampshire, so we grabbed some for the sandwiches.

Next we drove 25 minutes over the frost heaves and potholes to Keene, which now has a winter farmers market in the Hannah Grimes Center (Hannah Grimes is a wonderful organization that supports local innovation and entrepreneurship through a variety of collaborative initiatives). Most of the products available on this Saturday were dairy and meat, but we did find organic garlic and dried savory from Cheshire Garden in Winchester, New Hampshire.

Then we stopped at Blueberry Fields, an organic and natural foods market in Keene where we found relatively local, year round greenhouse-grown tomatoes from Backyard Farms in Maine. In reading their website, it seems like they are a great local business, but I could not determine if their tomatoes are organic.

We finished our shopping at Hannaford Supermarket where we picked up garlic and herb cheddar cheese from Cabot Creamery and maple smoked raw milk cheddar from Grafton Village Cheese Company, both from Vermont.

Back at home I discovered a bag of pattypan squash from the CSA that I had frozen at the end of the summer, and a container of vegetable stock I made in the fall. This is the first winter I have had local, organic summer vegetable choices in my freezer!

I read several online recipes for making roasted carrot soup to get a sense of seasonings and roasting time. I stumbled upon the idea of wiping the bread for the sandwiches in the seasoned oil from the roasting pan from this recipe from Cook for Good. I love how she calls it “Something for Nothing”.

On Sunday when it came time to make the soup, Cassidy and Jeremiah thought it would be more fun to go ice skating with friends on the village pond, calling me to get them just in time to help puree the soup and make the sandwiches. Even though they were busy that day, making a meal like this gives kids lots of opportunities to work supervised in the kitchen, including washing and cutting vegetables, mixing ingredients, working the blender and grilling the sandwiches. Best of all is eating the food they help create, like hot hearty soup and toasty sandwiches after a day of windy skating!

Roasted Carrot Squash Soup with Artisan Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hr

Total Time: 1 hr 30 minutes

Yield: 8 servings (for the soup) – 4 servings (for the sandwiches)

Ingredients

for the soup:

  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 6 garlic cloves (or fewer to taste)
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh savory, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped pattypan squash (or other yellow squash), fresh or frozen
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth

for the sandwiches:

  • 8 slices seeded artisan bread
  • variety of herb or seasoned cheeses (garlic and herb, smoked, etc.), enough for 4 sandwiches, sliced
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • herbed oil from roast vegetable preparation

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.  While the oven is heating up, scrub (and if not organic) peel the carrots. Then cut them in quarters lengthwise and across, so the pieces are about the same size. Peel and chop the onion. Peel the garlic cloves and leave whole.
  2. Put the vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper, chopped savory and olive oil. Toss well until evenly coated. Set the bowl aside to be used later for the sandwiches.
  3. Arrange vegetables evenly in a single layer on one or two roasting pans. Roast for 15 minutes, then remove pans, stir the vegetables and spread them out evenly again. Return pans to the oven and roast until tender and well browned but not burned, about 15 more minutes. Discard any overly charred bits. Set the roasting pans aside to be used later for the sandwiches.
  4. While the vegetables are roasting, add chopped squash to a large soup pot with vegetable broth. If the squash is fresh, simmer until tender, and if frozen, simmer gently until heated through. Turn off heat and set aside.
  5. Add roasted vegetables to soup pot with squash and broth. Puree until smooth with an immersion blender, or blend soup in small batches in a blender and return to the soup pot.
  6. Once soup is pureed, taste for salt and pepper, seasoning to taste. Cover and warm over low heat to let flavors blend.
  7. While the soup is heating, slice the cheeses and tomatoes, and bread if necessary. Rub one side of each bread slice in the seasoned oil from either the roasting pans or the mixing bowl.
  8. Set oiled sides of bread slices down in a skillet, then cover with cheeses, tomato slices and the top pieces of bread, oiled sides up. Cover pan.
  9. Toast sandwiches covered over low heat allowing the cheese to melt and the tomatoes to heat through. Once the cheese has melted, increase the heat to medium to toast the first side of the bread, then flip and toast the second side.
  10. Serve soup in small bowls with hot sandwiches on the side. The sandwiches taste delicious when dipped in the soup!

Stephanie Tickner lives with her family the rural town of Marlow in southwest New Hampshire. She loves cooking vegetarian food with her children, and has been working to include more local and organic food in their recipes. She is a watercolor painter, focusing on the little things that make life special. She also works at Antioch University New England as an administrator for the MBA in Sustainability program where she met Brianna and Sarah.