October 23rd, 2007

Peruvian Purple Potato Soup

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Why is it Peruvian? Maybe because purple potatoes are from Peru or maybe because I love alliteration. Either way, this soup made me feel like I was somewhere exotic, or at least anywhere besides my torn up corduroy couch in front of the TV. This is the kind of soup you can only really make after visiting a farmers market because although it’s super simple, regular supermarkets just don’t carry the ingredients. But I suggested some substitutes if you would like to try it.

I get big eyes at the Union Square Farmers market and tend to lug home more than I can use in a week, so because they stay fresh, tubers and squash are good (albeit heavy) choices for me. Last week I bought these gorgeous “purple beauty” potatoes. When I sliced them open I expected the color to be a little faded, but they were a vibrant Prince purple. The kind of purple you want to paint your room on a Saturday evening when you’re 15 and have no Cure concert to go to.

I also came into some Delfino cilantro. It’s a little different than the common parsley-looking cilantro, it looks sort of like dill, with thin stubby leaves. The taste was a bit different, too – more lemon-y and stronger. Pick some up if you can find it, but use regular cilantro for this recipe if you can’t.

The last hard to find ingredient was Czech black chili peppers. They were mild and fruity and absolutely gorgeous, but I think that jalapenos would be a fine substitute.

After boiling the potatoes the color did fade just a tad, so I cheated and grated in some beet. Unless you’re a food photographer that probably isn’t exactly necessary.

Peruvian Purple Potato Soup

Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

6 czech black peppers, seeded and thinly sliced

2 bay leaves

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups water

2 pounds purple potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks

1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)

1/4 cup Delfino cilantro, chopped

Juice 1/2 a lime, or to taste

Optional: a little grated beet for color

Preheat soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onions, chilies and bay leaves for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and saute 3 minute more.

Add potatoes, water and salt. Cover and bring the heat up to boil. Once boiling, lower heat a bit to a slow simmer and cook until potatoes are tender – usually 15 to 18 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree half the soup, or transfer half of the soup to a blender or food processor and puree. Be sure to let the steam escape in between pulses so that the steam doesn’t build up and explode all over you. But get an immersion blender, it is so worth it. Return pureed soup to pot and mix.

Add cilantro and lime and taste for salt. Grate a little bit of beet in, using a microplane grater if you’ve got one. I used maybe a tablespoon, maybe a little less. Let sit for at least 5 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve!

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