The weather is getting colder, the nights are drawing in quicker and the leaves are turning. That means, it is soup season! What better way to start the season than this warm and fragrant sweet potato and carrots chai spice soup.
This chai soup; prepared with sweet potatoes, carrots and spices typically used to make chai tea is intense and indulgent at the same time; which is needed at this time of the year when we are lamenting the end of summer. The soup is rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, which will help to develop and maintain a healthy immune system; as we approach flu season.
The natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes and carrots balance the warm, aromatic notes of the chai spices. They are a delicious match made in heaven; perfect for a chilly evening.
What is Chai Spice?
Chai means tea in Hindi, and some other Indian languages. In Northern parts of the Nigeria, and some parts of East Africa, tea is also referred to as Chai.
What we call chai in the western world is actually; masala chai which has its origins in India. It is a combination of black tea, milk, sugar and some warming spices like cardamom, ginger, cloves, star anise, etc. Masala chai has ayurvedic origins, the spices were used as healing remedies in Ayurvedic medicine; and till date in India, chai wallahs (person who sells tea), still flavour and sell tea with these spices. The chai spice combination depends on the area, region etc.
Masala refer to "a mixture spices", and chai to "tea"; but, we have lost the “masala” and have kept the word “chai”in the West. Chai tea blends are now very popular around the world. The growth of , which was accelerated by Starbucks’s introduction of chai latte in the 90’s. Till date, many people assume that chai refer to spices in chai tea.
For the purpose of this post, I will continue to refer to the spices as “chai”. The ingredients are usually a combination of some of these warm and fragrant spices; cardamom, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, fennel, star anise and black peppercorns. The constant ingredient in all the recipes I have seen is cardamom. This seem to be the dominant ingredient while others depend on personal preference; typically, four or five from the list above.
Chai Spice Nutrition
Chai spices are not only bursting with flavour, they also have health benefits, some of which are listed below;
- Cardamom – Rich in antioxidants, with antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects, which may help to protect against chronic diseases. It aids digestion and may help with digestive issues like ulcers.
- Cinnamon – Can reduce blood sugar which helps to lower the risk of heart diseases. It is rich in antioxidants and also have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Cloves – They are rich in antioxidants have anti-bacterial properties. They boost the immune system, and are used to treat colds.
- Ginger - Rich in antioxidant, has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties and is beneficial for nausea and gastrointestinal infections.
- Black Pepper - Helps with food digestion and nutrient absorption. It also help reduce cholesterol build-up in the arteries.
Apart from Chai latte and tea; which are the most popular ways of using chai; I have seen chai cakes, desserts, ice-cream and so on. So I thought I’d try it in a soup…and I will be making the soup again; as well as trying other chai recipes.
Sweet Potato Chai Spice Soup Recipe
I used store bought ground spices in this recipe for convenience. The only spice I couldn't get in ground form was cardamom. I had to open the pods to release the seeds, then ground the seeds in a small pestle and mortar. The Spruce Eats has a post on the different methods to do this. https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-powder-cardamom-easily-1957686
Sweet Potato and Carrot Chai Spice Soup
- Heat the oil in a pan.
- Pour in the onions and allow to cook until soft and translucent.
- Add the garlic and the spices while stirring to prevent burning.
- Stir for around 1 min, then add the sweet potatoes and the carrots.
- Continue to stir all the contents of the pots for another minute.
- Add the vegetable stock and cover the pan.
- Allow to cook until the sweet potatoes are soft, then remove from heat.
- Pour all the contents of the pot into a blender and push the button.
- Add more stock while in the blender depending on your preferred consistency.
- Serve with cream.