When autumn comes calling, giving us shorter days (not complaining, its a beautiful season) and longer chilly nights, it naturally seems the right time to simmer up some tasty comforting seasonal soups.
Growing and sourcing wonderful fresh food gives me as much enjoyment as it does cooking with it. I still get excited year on year pulling up sets of shallots out the garden in the summer and spotting that perfect bunch of beetroot in the green grocers and farmers markets when autumn arrives.
I love beetroot in all its various colours ( purple, gold, pink and white ringed ) and forms ( small and round, oblong, bulbous and round). Lovely fresh and firm tennis ball sized beetroot’s get used for this soup and I couldn’t resist nabbing a bulbous bunch of each colour. If you can’t get your hands on the golden beetroot variety, don’t worry, this soup works well with the standard purple coloured beetroot, in fact I think its got the strongest and best flavour.
Beetroot’s are also delicious when roasted, it accentuates their wonderful sweet, earthy flavour. Try roasting them up for this beautiful burgundy coloured soup, with the added boost of flavours coming from the roasted shallots, bay leaves, rosemary and garlic too!
- For the soup
- 700g beetroot, cut into quarters (used tennis ball size beets in gold and purple)
- 6 shallots, peeled
- 4 large garlic cloves,unpeeled
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 long sprig fresh rosemary, leaves pulled from stem
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 800ml good quality vegetable stock (preferably home made)
- flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the cream
- 3 tbsp double cream, single cream or creme fraiche
- 1 level tsp hot horseradish sauce
- 1 tbsp milk (to thin if necessary)
- Preheat the oven to 180 ℃ / gas mark 4
- Put the beetroot,shallots, garlic, herbs and olive oil into baking dish and stir.Season with salt and pepper.
- Roast uncovered in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes.
- Cover the dish with foil or a lid and roast for a further 25 minutes.
- Take the dish out of the oven and allow to cool completely.
- If the skins of the beetroot are a bit leathery, slip them off, they should come away very easily.
- Squeeze out the garlic, discarding their papery case along with the bay leaves.
- Put the roasted beetroot, shallots, garlic, rosemary and vegetable stock into a liquidiser or food processor and blend until pureed.
- Make the horseradish cream sauce by putting all the ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine.
- Pour the now beautiful burgundy soup mixture into a saucepan.
- When ready to serve, heat up the soup gently, not allowing it to boil rapidly. Boiling soup can ruin its colour and flavour.
- Ladle into bowls or mugs and add a spoonful of the horseradish cream on the top.
Beetroot’s are usually boiled with their skins on to stop them bleeding, root left on and a little stem still attached. If big they usually take an hour or so to boil to tenderness and if small about half an hour will do the trick. A good way to test if they are ready is to lift out a beetroot and press it gently with your fingers if the skin slips off easily the beetroot is cooked
The garlic cloves get roasted in their skins and then the mellow, sweet, caramelised flesh gets squeezed out of its tough papery case just like you would squeeze toothpaste from a tube. To make the shallots easier to peel, just put them into a bowl and pour over boiling water, allow to sit for 4-5 minutes, drain and with a small sharp knife pull the outer skin away from the bulb down towards the root.
When beetroots are young, both the tops and the roots make good eating. The young tops and stems can cooked the same way as you would chard or spinach.
This roasted beetroot medley also makes for a brilliant warm vegetable side dish to go along side a roasted leg of lamb and maybe (definitely) accompanied by a creamy potato Dauphinois.
It also makes one of my favourite warm autumn salads, simple served with some soft goats cheese, a handful of watercress and a wedge of warm bread.
Thanks for calling by today and come back soon for the next recipe ; Parmesan and fresh rosemary focaccia bread.