I love this time of year.

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There is a romance to the change of seasons that occurs in fall. The first crisp nights, brightly colored leaves crunching under foot, pumpkins, Indian corn and potted mums. Summer tomatoes and zucchini give way to butternut squash, creamy, white cauliflower, and rich beets. But for all of autumn’s dependable traditions, perhaps the most reliable is the appearance of the ubiquitous ginger carrot soup on restaurant menus across America.

I’m not saying it is a bad thing, but aren’t you just a little bored? That’s why I opened the spice cupboard. Inspired by Moroccan flavors, I pulled star anise, whole cloves, cardamom, and yes, ginger, off the shelf. Rich butter, refined leeks, and a sweet vegetable stock enhanced with parsnips finished the dish perfectly.

Don’t forget to pull the star anise and cloves before puréeing the soup. Otherwise you end up with a bunch of nasty, crunchy bits throughout your soup. Or, my husband Jason bites down on a whole star anise. Which has definitely, absolutely never happened before.

Spiced Carrot Soup

Ingredients:

• 2 tbs butter
• 1 large onion, diced
• 1 leek, finely chopped
• 4 cups diced carrot
• 1 star anise pod
• 2-3 cloves
• 1 tsp ground ginger
• 1/4 tsp cardamom
• 3 sprigs thyme
• 8 cups stock with 2 chopped parsnips added
• 1 tbs honey
• Lemon juice

Directions:
• Melt butter in stock pot over medium-low heat. Sauté onion and leek until soft. 5-6 minutes
• Add carrot, sauté 3-5 minutes to soften.
• Add spices and cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
• Add thyme and stock. Cook 20 minutes to develop flavors.
• Purée soup and return to pot.
• Add honey and season to taste with salt, white pepper and lemon juice.

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