Purple Haze and Autumn Days
Did you smell it this morning?!? I stepped out the door and got the first whiff of autumn’s scent hesitantly tiptoeing past the last of summer’s lingering humidity. I adore the crisp morning and evenings of fall. I also adore autumn root vegetables and final sweet crop of the summer plants. When you combine the hearty flavors of the former with the natural sugars of the latter…well, let’s just say that’s where the magic happens.
Carrots have been around on the farm for awhile already this summer, but this is the first chance I’ve had to showcase them. You’ll be seeing more of them though as the tomatoes, watermelons, tomatillos, fennel, okra, cucumbers and other hot weather lovers come to a halt. Lovers of cold nights like kale, brussle sprouts, turnips, and large leeks will be sneaking into the beds (and my recipes) instead.
Kinko, Parmex, and Purple Haze – of these three kinds of carrots currently in the ground at Weavers Way Farm, the last is by far my favorite. Granted, the little round lumpy balls of the Parmex, a baby carrot variety, are darn cute. And the rich orange color of the Kinko is a welcome burst of color in a green salad. But there’s something about a purple carrot that catches the imagination in a whole new light.
Exhibit A: the snappy sweetness (and color!) of these carrots combined with the lemony tang of sorrel and marjoram makes for a mighty fine soup. To be fair, this one didn’t come out of my own imagination. As I flipped through A Good Day for Soup, a cookbook I haven’t explored much yet, I was immediately struck by the intro to Sorrel Carrot and Potato Soup: “Make it on a day when the carrot man shows up at the farmers’ market with his sweetest harvest, and you will marvel at the extra dimension that just-picked ingredients can provide.” With good sensible advice like that, I’ll be making this my go-to soup book this fall.
Carrot season can last through December, given the right conditions, so let me know if you have some interesting recipes that take advantage of this hard working – and colorful – veggie.
SORREL CARROT AND POTATO SOUP
Adapted from A Good Day for Soup
2 T. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 t. fresh marjoram, coarsely chopped
2 large bunches of sorrel (1 lb. or about 35 large leaves)
4 c. vegetable stock
1 lb. carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. potatoes, scrubbed (but not peeled) and diced
salt and pepper
In a medium soup pot or saucepan, heat oil. Once hot, add onion, garlic, marjoram, and sorrel. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir until sorrel is whilted and then lower heat to let onions soften for another 5 minutes.
Add stock and raise heat again to bring it to a boil. Add carrots and potatoes. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. If you have an immersion blender, use it to blend up the soup to your desired chunkiness. If you are using a stand blender, remove about half the soup from the pot and put in the blender to process until smooth. Combine all the soup again and taste for salt and pepper.
Serve warm with a sprig of fresh marjoram and a slice of crusty bread.