Sunday, January 10, 2010


I've been wanting to join a C.S.A. (Community Supported Agriculture) organization for at least a few years now. I've looked, but surprisingly here in sunny Los Angeles there were not many options.

Thankfully this has changed. C.S.A.s allow you to partake in a local farmer's harvest on a regular basis. You are essentially a shareholder in the harvest. You pay a set amount and receive a box or bag of produce on a regular basis.

I signed up with
Silver Lake Farms. That is about as local as you can get, considering we live in Echo Park. Friday was my first pickup. The haul was as follows:

arugula (my favorite!)
dandelion greens
green garlic
red onion

This is a lot of fun! You get a big surprise every week. It challenges you to use whatever is at hand. It's a way better deal than shopping at Whole Foods!

A fantastic book to have in your collection and at the ready after joining a C.S.A. is
Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters. She organizes it by vegetable, so that you are able to simply flip to the Carrot section to find the perfect recipe to take advantage of the carrots, cilantro, and red onion from your C.S.A. sack.

So here we go: Carrot and Cilantro Soup.

I made this soup for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a perfect puree. Very smooth and carroty and the cilantro salsa that you garnish it with is bright and spicy. It is not too sweet as some carrot soups can be.

The version I made yesterday was perhaps a little too light on carrots and a little too heavy on potatoes. It was still delicious, but I've changed the recipe a little bit to help avoid yesterday's flaws.

Carrot and Cilantro Soup

1 white onion, peeled and sliced
3 tablespoons butter
2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
salt and pepper
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
1/4 pound cilantro
1 small red onion
2 serrano or jalapeno peppers
juice of 1 lime

Stew the onions in the butter in a covered heavy pot over low heat. Once the onions are quite soft, add the carrots and potatoes, salt generously and continue to stew, covered, for an additional 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock to cover, and simmer until the vegetable are cooked through. Remove pot from the heat.

Reserve a handful of the cilantro for the salsa, and throw the rest into the pot. Puree the soup and strain it through a medium sieve. Do not leave out the straining step! It makes all the difference. Just ask Thomas Keller! Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Make a little salsa with the red onion, cilantro, peppers, and lime juice. Chop it all up and stir it together with a little salt.

Heat the soup until warm, ladle into bowls, garnish with salsa and serve.

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