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I have always had quite an obsession with food-based fairy tales - such as The Magic Pot of Porridge - and indeed have even written one of my own, so was delighted to find this collection of food fairy tales, complete with recipes. It is utterly charming, as is the recipe for Brer Rabbit's Carrot Soup, which I've chosen for you this week.


by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple (Crocodile Books, 2009)

Brer Rabbit's Carrot Soup

Eat it while you lay low. Makes 8 servings


  • sharp knife
  • cutting board
  • peeler
  • large pot
  • measuring cup
  • large spoon or spatula
  • zesting tool or cheese grater
  • blender
  • large bowl


  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 pount carrots (large or baby), peeled and chopped (450g)
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 cups of water (1.5 pints or 700ml)
  • 1 tsp. vegetable bouillon (5ml)
  • fresh basil (about 6 leaves)
  • juice from half an orange or ¼ cup (60ml) orange juice
  • ½ tsp. orange zest
  • salt and pepper
  • heavy cream


  1. Prepare the carrots and potatoes by washing them, peeling them (though baby carrots don't need to be peeled), and cutting them all into smaller pieces. Peel and chop the onion. Peel the papery outer layer from the garlic and trim the ends. Mix the water and vegetable bouillon together in the measuring cup. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large pot at medium heat.
  3. Add the carrots, potatoes, onion, and garlic and mix with the spoon or spatula until the melted butter coats them all.
  4. Add the bouillon/water mixture and the basil and bring to a boil at high heat.
  5. Lower the temperature to medium and boil for 7 minutes or until carrots are soft.
  6. Zest the orange: using a zesting tool or a cheese grater, peel small pieces of the skin from a clean orange. Scrape only the sweet skin and not the pith (the bitter white between the skin and the fruit).
  7. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice from one half into the measuring cup or a new bowl.
  8. Add the orange zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste to the pot and cook for one more minute.
  9. Turn off the heat and scoop portions of the mixture into a blender and blend until fairly smooth (small chunks only make the soup better). Pour out into the large bowl and scoop more into the blender. Repeat until all the soup is pureed and in the bowl. 
  10. Serve with a dollop (about a tablespoon) of cream and a sprinkling of fresh basil.

Facts about carrots:

  1. The Latin or scientific name for carrot is Daucus carota.
  2. Carrots were probably grown by farmers well before the common era in the Mediterranean region.
  3. Some researchers believe that carrots were first farmed in Afghanistan in the seventh century.
  4. Carrots came to the New World with European explorers and settlers.
  5. Carrots come in many shades - red, purple, yellow, black, white. However, the orange carrot is the most common. These were developed by the Dutch in the Middle Ages.
  6. Although it is poisonous, Queen Anne's lace is a kind of wild carrot. It is also called birds' nest weed, bees' nest, and rantipole.


Instead of the onion and garlic, use two sweet apples peeled, cored, and cut into small pieces.

Or instead of basil, use fresh parsley. Experiment with other herbs - a good test is to smell them and ask yourself if they smell as if they should go in your dish.