I picked up some beautiful heirloom carrots at the Weston Farmers Market from Gazy Brothers Farm. I’m entering my carrot-cake biscotti in the Westport Farmers Market carrot recipe contest on Saturday (2/23/13) and must use local produce. These giant carrots are purple-skinned with a bright orange center. I bought them before I knew how many samples I needed to take to the contest (just a few versus the hundred I had originally thought), so I was left with extra carrots. Carrot soup with leeks, I thought….
My husband will gladly grocery shop. On occasion he misunderstands my request or misidentifies an ingredient. Today I asked for 3 leeks. He came home with 3 bunches of leeks (4 per bunch)!!! I used them all and made a Leek Carrot Soup with Middle East seasonings.
If you don’t have heirloom carrots, don’t hesitate to use regular carrots. I chose not to use stock; the abundance of leeks and carrots with the spices deliver great flavor. The soup reduces and becomes thick; f you prefer a thinner soup, add a little water.
Look at the beauty of these carrots – the large size because they’ve been in the ground since spring. The purple skin, filled with betalains, a purple pigment found in beets that bleed, and the contrasting orange. Because of the dominance of the betalain, the soup is purple. It’s sweet and flavorful with the coriander, cumin and cinnamon and the cilantro garnish provides a nice contrast in color and a bright, fresh punch.
Heirloom Carrot & Leek Soup
Yield: ~8 cups
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 leeks, white part only, trimmed, sliced and thoroughly cleaned
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne, more if you like spicy
1 1/2 pounds heirloom carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 Idaho potato, peeled and cut into chunks
6 cups cold water
garnish: chopped cilantro (optional)
Put the oil and butter in a 7-quart covered pot over medium-high heat. When the butter foams, stir in the leeks and salt. Cover, reduce heat to low and sweat for 10 minutes.
Remove the cover and continue cooking until most of the liquid in the pan evaporates, about 5 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne, stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the carrots, potatoes and water. Stir to combine, bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle boil and cook until carrots and potatoes are tender – they will easily fall apart when pushed against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. The timing will depend on the size of the vegetable pieces.
Let cool a bit and then purée in batches in a food processor or in the pot with an immersion blender. Adjust seasoning as needed.
Cool and refrigerate for later or reheat and garnish with cilantro.