Beets were never high on my list of veggies to eat. My dad used to cook and eat them, mostly by himself because none of us would want to have anything to do with it for some reason. He enjoyed the beets (either pickled or sauteed in butter) the best with his Raki. “They make a beautiful couple, don’t they?” he asked one time, pointing out his turned-white raki (lion’s milk, as we say) in that slender, tall glass sitting right beside some beets in their bright, beautiful color. I used to just shake my head and move on…
I am sold… I am in… I am done… Whatever you call it!
Last week, I invited some friends over for dinner, because I was planning to cook a feast to accompany a lamb leg recipe from One Big Table for my post this week. More to come on that topic this weekend… but first, this soup… it was served as first course. So it only makes sense that it is written first!
I started looking for some recipes that use dill because one of my guests has a love affair with dill. Then, I happened to pick up James Peterson’s Splendid Soups at the library. One night, while sipping a cup of tea and turning the pages, I found THE soup… the one that was recommended to eat with lots of dill on top.
It was no-brainer…
Since I am a beet-illiterate, of course, my cooking attempt started with a white t-shirt… only to end up with me frantically looking for my Oxy-Clean… And then going to Target tonight and picking up new white tshirts. Bottom line: Put Your Apron On!
The recipe calls for cooking the beets in the stock or water until they get soft. Instead of this step, I roasted the beets wrapped in foil in a 375°F oven, then put them in the stock. I am not sure if it made any change in the flavor. But I prefer anything roasted over boiled, personally! Also, I think the vinegar in the recipe has something to do with the great taste!
After you make this soup, you will have a big urge to make “ohh… ahhh” noises and keep saying “Ohh how pretty!”… I normally do not use that word for food… Pretty is for little girls, it is for pink stuff, it is for jewelery… you get the point… Not for a soup!
Unless your soup turns out pretty pink… and turns you into a giggly little girl…Then, by all means… you are even allowed to giggle when your bread turns pink!
Cream of Beet Soup (From James Peterson’s Splendid Soups)
- 1 lbs beets (Recipe calls for peeled and chopped to cook in the stock. You can roast, then peel and chop to put in the stock)
- 1 large onion, chopped coarsely
- 1 fresh marjoram spring or 1 teaspoon dried or chopped fresh thyme
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (more or less depending on your taste)
- Salt and pepper
- As topping: 1/2 cup heavy cream, lightly whipped, croutons, and chopped fresh dill
1. Melt the butter in a soup pan, add onion, beets (if you prefer not to roast), and thyme or marjoram and cook until the onions are softened but not browned.
2. Add the broth, bring to a boil and then simmer slowly until the beets are cooked and soft. (This step will be shorter if you roast the beets. Make sure the onions are cooked well also)
3. Puree the soup in a blender, or use a handheld blender. You can strain it through a mesh strainer if you want a smooth texture. I just used the handheld blender until I could not see any chunks of beet or onion, and did not strain it. I like the texture in the soup but do whatever floats your boat.
4. Stir the cream, vinegar, salt and pepper and bring the soup back to a simmer.
5. Decorate the soup bowls with any of the toppings listed above (or all! There is nothing wrong with that!)