What would I give for a roof terrace, covered in deck chairs the colour of beetroot, with a matching beetroot awning… well that’s not going to happen in the near future, given central London property prices and my refusal to become a suburbanite, but a girl can dream. (Honestly, how dull a dream is that? My imagination is seriously lacking today)
When I saw these beautiful beetroots (is that the plural of beetroot? Not the slightest idea, sounds weird) I knew that beetroot soup was in my future.
I’m a relative newcomer to the world of beetroot love. My mum grew it (them?) in her fabulous veggie garden when I was little and pickled huge batches, making the house smell slightly odd. But I would never touch the stuff, until a few years back when I realised that the combination of battered cod, chips, mushy peas and beetroot, always favoured by my family, was actually heaven on earth. I don’t know where this revelation came from, but now I can’t get enough. Strangely though, until today, I had never cooked a beetroot from it’s raw state.
In researching recipes for the ultimate pink soup, I came across this one from the absolute genius that is, Mr Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. There are a couple of things that made this recipe stand out for me. Firstly, the fact that the starting point of this recipe is the creation of a garlic and tomato slush. This intrigued me and although I’m still not entirely clear on what it added to the soup (due to my incredibly poor taste buds) I entirely trust that it’s a key part of making this soup so utterly delicious.
The other interesting addition was a sprinkling of feta cheese. Beetroot and feta are a beautiful combination and the saltiness of the feta sets off the sweet beetroot amazingly well. Adding a further topping of raw beetroot matchsticks adds a little freshness and crunch. If you don’t like your soup crunchy, feel free to rebel, I’m sure a gloriously garlicy crouton would be utterly fantastic here. Although thinking about it, that would make your soup crunchy too…
This recipe is simple, tasty and healthy. You can serve it hot or chilled, making it the perfect summer soup. Does that convince you to give beetroot another go?
Beetroot Soup with Feta
Taken from BBC Food
3-4 medium sized beetroot, chopped into small dice
500g ripe tomatoes, halved
1 clove of garlic
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
500ml of strong beef stock (I used one of those stock pot things)
Salt and pepper
Feta and raw beetroot sticks for garnish
Preheat the oven to 190 C / 170 C Fan / 375 F.
Put the halved tomatoes into an oven dish, cut side up and sprinkle over the garlic and half of the olive oil. Pop them in the oven for 25 – 30 mins until they are nice and soft. Push the tomatoes through a fine sieve to create a puree and remove the seeds and skins.
Heat the rest of the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions until they are soft and translucent but not browned. Add the beetroot and stock, bring to the boil. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 10 mins until the beetroot is soft.
Stir in the tomato puree and use an immersion blender to blend the soup until completely smooth. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
You now have 2 options, either reheat the soup and serve it warm with little feta chunks and some fresh bread, or alternatively chill the soup in the fridge and then top it with the beetroot sticks and some crumbled feta.