09 July, 2009

How to convert them.

Go ahead, guess what vegetable is pictured above. I shredded and sprinkled it over a well-chilled beet and ginger soup.

I know, the beet is a love it or hate it kind of thing, but the hate it camp has probably never tried it steaming and right out of its aluminum foil jacket, well-roasted in olive oil, let alone in this chilled version.

With this suave soup in your spoon, you will have a hard time remembering your objections, if any, to the modest beet. Let go of any lingering notions of vaguely Slavic, cream-dosed borscht, as what I'm going on about is another animal entirely, with a clean, bright look and taste. It's a summer soup that sings, and is just tailor-made for sunny days.
Have you figured it out? These are two of four varieties of beets currently in my fridge. Oh so gaudy, but also so young they can be shredded and eaten raw.

Velouté Glacé de Betteraves et Gingembre (Chilled Beet and Ginger Soup)

Serves 6-8 people.

5 tablespoons olive oil
8-10 fresh, hard young beets, red or golden, which when peeled and coarsely cubed, make about 9 cups, green tops reserved for accompanying salad
3 cups coarsely chopped onions
1 ripe tomato
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger, or 3 teaspoons pure ginger juice (from grating)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon finely chopped organic lemon zest
5 cups (or more) chicken broth
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 200 C. In an oven-proof dish or roasting pan, toss the beets, tomato and onions in olive oil, season with salt and pepper. The 13 cups worth of vegetables should completely fill the dish. Cover very tightly with foil and roast; after one 1 hour, test with a fork--the beets should be quite cooked through and nicely tender.

Meanwhile, bring half the broth to boil in a soup pot. Add ginger, ground coriander seed and lemon zest and allow to simmer. Once roasted vegetables are ready,add the broth andvegetables to a food processor and puree until velvety smooth. Return soup to pot. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to soup and thin with remaining broth until you have reached the desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary with salt, pepper, and small amounts of lemon juice. Note that chilled soups require more assertive flavors. Chill at least 6 hours before serving.

One of the reasons this is a great summer choice is that it can best be made a day ahead, enabling you to better enjoy your family, friends, the fine weather, or a good book.

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