Tag Archives: soup

Adventures with purple carrots

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Carrot diversity

Carrot diversity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every Friday afternoon, we get a delivery of organic vegetables.  We never know what we’re going to get – the element of surprise is what makes it interesting.  In the winter months, we tend to get a lot of root vegetables – carrots, potatoes, beets, etc.  And kale.  Lots of kale, which it turns out, is very tasty cooked in a little bit of oil and garlic.

We try to eat what we get each week, but sometimes we end up with a surplus of one kind of vegetable or another.  I have a couple of colleagues who are willing to accept donations of fingerling potatoes and turnips.  Sometimes, I just have to come up with a recipe that uses large amounts of vegetables just so we have room in our fridge. 

Last week, we had a big bag of carrots in the fridge.  I take carrot sticks for lunch most days, but I wasn’t eating them fast enough.  So I decided to make carrot and sweet potato soup (we also had a few extra sweet potatoes – even after sharing them with my colleagues.)

The carrots we get every week aren’t your ordinary garden-variety orange carrots.  They are usually every colour but orange – yellow, white, pale orange with yellow streaks, red and purple.  They are much sweeter than the carrots we get at the grocery store, likely in part because they are organic, but also because they are heirloom varieties.

So I cut up most of the carrots – about 5 cups in a variety of colours – and threw them in my soup pot with some sautéed onion and garlic.  I added an equivalent amount of potato – 4 cups of sweet potato and 1 medium white potato, plus water, grated ginger and a few assorted spices.  Cooked everything until the vegetables were tender.

It turns out that if you cook with purple carrots, even a small quantity, you will get purple soup.  Dark purple, almost the colour of eggplant.   The colour doesn’t affect the taste – it tastes like a big bowl of carrots.  But while purple is a good colour for many things, I’ m not sure soup is one of them.

I’m not sure why I was so surprised that the carrots turned the whole soup purple. Probably because we get purple beans in the summer, but they turn green when they are cooked.  Apparently purple carrots stay purple.

So this week, I’ve been eating purple soup.  I think next time I have extra purple carrots, I will add them to a stir fry.  Or I could boil a couple and  dye some ribbon – tea works, why wouldn’t carrots.

Here’s the recipe – orange carrots will work just fine. 

1 tsp olive oil

1 large onion

3 cloves garlic. minced

2 tablespoons grated ginger

5 cups  carrots, cut in half and sliced thin (I don’t bother peeling organic carrots)

4 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes

1 lg regular potato, peeled and cubed

8 cups water

1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp each of cumin and garam masala

1/4 tsp nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onions and garlic until soft; add remaining vegetables, water, spices and seasonings.  Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to low.  Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are soft.  Puree until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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What’s in your fridge minestrone soup

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Français : Soupe Minestrone de Marie Therese G...

Image via Wikipedia

About 5 years ago, I gave up all dairy products.  It turns out I am allergic to milk, butter, cheese, etc.  Prior to that, I had been a vegetarian for about 25 years.  But without cheese, I was hungry…very hungry.  So I gradually fell off the vegetarian wagon and started eating small amounts of chicken and of beef.

Even when I was a vegetarian, soup was one of my staples.  As a student, I would make a big pot that would last me at least a week.  Minestrone was one of my favourites – the ingredients were both easy to find at the grocery store and affordable. 

My student days are long behind me, but I still make minestrone soup on a regular basis.  Even though I am no longer a vegetarian, I still prefer vegetable and/or bean-based soups. 

As far as I am concerned, minestrone soup is a nearly perfect dish – it’s simple to prepare, easy to take for lunch and nutritious.  It freezes relatively well – the pasta may break up into smaller pieces, but they still taste fine.  Plus, it has the added bonus of using up lots of vegetables in your fridge.

My original recipe probably came from the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen.   Over the years, I’ve consulted other recipes and gradually developed my own minestrone recipe.  The classic ingredients are generally onion, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, and zucchini.  There are lots of variations.  One thing I learned early on is that canned tomatoes are a cook’s best friend.  Just open a can and dump in the soup pot.  If you use diced canned tomatoes, it’s even easier, as you don’t even have to break up the tomatoes.

I usually use the standard ingredients, but I’m not a purist.  If I can’t find one of the ingredients in the refrigerator or cupboard, I just substitute it with something else.  I have indicated approximate amounts, but soup is pretty forgiving.  If you like carrots, but don’t care much for potatoes, just add more of what you like and less of what you don’t.

What’s in Your Fridge Minestrone

Ingredients:

1 – 2 tsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2-3 medium carrots, chopped (peeling optional)

1-2 medium potatoes, turnip, parsnips, cubed – or a combination of all three (peeling optional)

large handful of green beans, ends snipped and cut into smaller pieces

1 can (19 oz) tomatoes

6-8 cups of water or vegetable broth/stock (or a combination)

1 can kidney beans (15 oz) or 1 cup green lentils

1/2 cup dried pasta (fusilli, shells, etc)

1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced

2-3 cups fresh spinach, swiss chard or kale, washed and torn into small pieces

salt, pepper and other herbs (basil, oregano, thyme), as desired

Method:

Heat oil over medium heat and saute onions until soft.  Add carrots and cook until almost tender.  Add potatoes (plus turnip and parsnips if using) and continue to cook until vegetables are tender.  Add green beans and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add canned tomatoes and water/stock/broth – I usually just add water to the empty tomato tin at least twice.  Add kidney beans or lentils (sometimes I use both).  Combine ingredients well.

Turn heat up to high and bring liquid to a boil.  Add pasta.  If using kale or swiss chard, add with the pasta.  Turn heat down to low, cover and let simmer for 15-20 mins, stirring occasionally, until lentils/pasta/kale are tender.  Add any seasonings/herbs and zucchini.  If using spinach, add as well.  Cook for another 5 minutes.

Enjoy!