As you may already have guessed, the Midwestern Gentleman and I call this soup “purple velvet” for its deep purple color and its velvety texture. It’s startlingly pretty, with a reddish-violet vibrancy when freshly cooked that deepens to a more bluish-violet hue after a night in the refrigerator. Like most soups, it tastes lovely when just made, but tastes even better as leftovers, once its flavors have had time to marry.
What makes this soup so very anti-inflammatory that I used the term in my post title? Anthocyanins, my friends. Anthocyanins are the anti-inflammatory compounds that give dark berries like black currants and blueberries their gem-like hues. The potency of these compounds is somewhat counteracted in berries by a high natural sugar content. However, the same compounds that turn blueberries blue also give purple cabbage and red onion their brilliant colors, without the sugar. Along with this recipe’s purple ingredients, all members of the allium family (garlic and onions) are anti-inflammatory. The omega-3s found in monounsaturated oils like olive oil give another anti-inflammatory boost. Finally, celery contains luteolin, another bioflavanoid with anti-inflammatory properties.
O.k. so this soup is fabulously healthful, but how does it taste? You won’t believe how delicious and satisfying it is until you try it! If you’re not concerned about making this a vegan dish, you can easily substitute GF chicken broth for the vegetable broth. We’ve enjoyed this soup on its own, and with crunchy veggie wraps loaded with other colorful vegetables.
Purple Velvet Soup
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
8 to 9 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 head of purple (red) cabbage, coarsely chopped
3/4 tsp salt
4 cups purple potatoes or a mix of purple
and red-skinned potatoes, diced small (1/4″)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
6 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
2 cups water
Makes 8 servings.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the red onion, celery, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions and celery turn translucent. Add the red cabbage and salt, stir well to coat the cabbage with oil, and let cook another 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
Make sure the potatoes are diced quite small (about 1/4″ dice) so they will cook quickly. Add the remaining ingredients, stir well to combine, and bring to a boil. Immediately turn down the heat, keeping the soup at a simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a form. Remove soup pot from heat. Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or in small batches in a conventional blender). Return to the heat, if necessary, to re-warm the soup before serving. Garnish as desired. Keeps well in the refrigerator, although the color will deepen from reddish violet to bluish violet.