Thursday, 9 August 2012

Purple Carrot Soup with Oregano and Chipotle

'I think it pisses God off if you walk by the colour purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.'
(Quote from Alice Walker's The Colour Purple)
This looks deceptively like a beetroot soup but it is not, besides beets are not the only purple vegetable. Ancient varieties of carrots are purple, yellow and  even white. It is unfortunate that the popular orange variety, which came about in the sixteenth century through cross breeding in the Netherlands, is the only variety available at the supermarkets.

To find the ancient variety, you'll need to try the farmer's market or a specialist grocer. I got mine at the Marche des Lices (see this post to read more about this amazing market).

According to the Carrot Museum carrots originated from modern day Afghanistan 5000 years ago where they are still grown in the original purple and yellow variety. The purple ones have the same anti-oxidant properties found in blueberries, blackberries and cranberries due to the anthocyanins which gives them their pigmentation. Anti-oxidants in our diets help towards fighting off heart disease, cancer and ageing; this therefore raises the purple carrot's status as a super food. So tuck in!

This looks a lot like Rock, the English boiled sweet I used to eat on a day out at the sea

To savour these carrots, I grated some for a colourful carrot salad and the rest where used up in this simple carrot soup. Though I used a mix of purple, yellow and orange carrots, the  colour purple overpowered the others.

I usually add a pinch of turmeric (and chilli powder) to carrot soup but something about the colour purple made me reach out for the jar of chipotle powder (a smoked Mexican chilli -often red jalapenos). I don't know why, perhaps because of the similar colours or tastes: chipotle has a smoky flavour reminiscent of turmeric's musky notes. It was a good thing I trusted my instinct because the mild heat from the chipotle along with the bitter notes from the fresh oregano contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the carrots taking this simple soup to another level . It certainly went down well this lunch time with a friend who had a sore throat.

The Recipe


6 new carrots (washed and scrubbed, or peeled. Use at least two purple ones for colour)
1 litre of water
1 tsp of coarse sea salt
4 sprigs of oregano (use the leaves only)
3 sprigs of chives
1 large garlic clove
Vegetable stock cube
Salt and pepper
1 tsp chipotle powder
Sour cream to garnish

Slice the carrots and put them in a saucepan with the water and salt. Bring to the boil before adding a cube of vegetable stock. Combine well. In a blender, first pulse the garlic, oregano and chives then add the carrots with the water and pulse again until smooth. Season with chipotle powder and more salt if necessary and pepper. To serve garnish with a swirl of sour cream to soften the heat in the soup.

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