The first time I had the very good fortune of eating at the French Laundry, I was served a small bowl of soup that was intensely carroty with a smoky chile essence. Despite its robust flavors it was still ethereal and light. This recipe grew from trying to recreate that soup, which over time has morphed into its own creation. I love toasting raw pumpkin seeds and sprinkling them over soups, salads and bowls of pinto and black beans. In this soup they add a nice crunchy yen to the soups creamy yang. —Lori Lyn Narlock
4 as an appetizer
small yellow onion, diced
carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the carrots and stock and bring to a boil. Cover and cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
While the carrots are cooking, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle the cumin and chile powder over the top and stir to coat evenly. When they begin to make popping sounds, stir frequently to prevent burning. Cook until slightly crisped, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
Transfer the vegetables and liquid to a blender container and put on the top (You may need to do this in batches). Remove the center of the lid and cover with a clean towel to allow steam to escape. Puree until smooth. Add the chiles and yogurt, blend until completely smooth. Return to the pot, season with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and the pepper, and heat until warm. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with each with toasted pumpkin seeds, crumbled feta and cilantro. Finish with a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil.