One of our favorite carrot soups at our SoLé Soups Studios is our Vegan Carrot Ginger w/ Coconut Milk soup, but have you ever stopped to wonder just what makes those carrots so good? The color, flavor, and health benefits of carrots are all tied pretty closely together, and it all has to do with one crucial component – the carotenoid beta carotene.
Carrots can be found in a few different colors of the rainbow, but one fact that many don’t know is that carrots actually started out stark white and looking very similar to a parsnip. These white carrots were something of an acquired taste, and they had what could be described as a starchy and woody flavor at that time. These first “domesticated” or purposely grown carrots were popular about 1,100 years ago and more often used for their leaves than the vegetable itself.
It wasn’t until a couple hundred years later that colored carrots began to appear, with orange taking the reins as the fan favorite sometime in the early 17th century. What gives carrots their classic orange color is an antioxidant called beta carotene, which the body converts into the very nutritionally important Vitamin A. Vitamin A is key to maintaining vision, growth, cell division within the body, the immune system, and the body’s reproductive systems as well. Vitamin A has a good hand in many of the crucial systems of the body. Carrots are so packed full of beta carotene that 1 medium sized carrot carries within it about 300% of the body’s daily recommended Vitamin A intake.
Beta carotene isn’t just bringing the delightful orange color or the valuable Vitamin A, it also contributes to the sweet flavor so many love when they bite into a fresh carrot. In a soup, this pairs particularly well with earthy flavors, spicy notes, or savory profiles. This sweet taste can be found in just about all vegetables with the telltale beta carotene bright orange color like sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and winter squash.
The next time you stop in our SoLé Soups Studio in Thousand Oaks or Agoura Hills, we want you to look at carrots with a whole new appreciation! Not only are they bright, vibrant, and beautiful, it’s that beauty that tells you just how good for your body these veggies truly are.