This year has been a miracle for me and the beet. I spent my childhood making dramatic gagging noises when my dad slurped his beloved borscht; I strategically pushed shiny, offensive beet cubes about my plate, hiding them under things; and even (as a more polite adult) tried swallowing some whole with a wine chaser at a dinner party.
But slowly over the last couple of years things have changed. I first was able to tolerate the beet. I then began to imagine ways they might be not-so-terrible. Just this summer I made a salad of RAW beets that I thought was pretty good. And this weekend, I made a soup. And it surpassed anything I could have hoped for. It was not just a way to sort of try to enjoy a beet—or a dish so completely loaded with other flavors that the beet was not so noticeable. This was a celebration of the beautifully colored root. An orange, pistachio drizzle, and bit of sour cream added elegance to the sweet, earthy purée. I folded the beet greens into a nutty, cheesy polenta that was then fried into croutons, which bulked up the soup to meal status.
I geeked out and blended both golden and red beets separately because the colors were so beautiful, but this could be simplified with one kind of beet or just by blending them all together.
WHO: Savorthis co-owns a furniture design company and catalogues her meals in Denver.
WHAT: A zippy, refreshing take on borscht (with toothy polenta croutons striped with beet greens).
HOW: Roast beets and blitz them in a blender with aromatics and broth. Serve with a swirl of pistachio vinaigrette and a couple of cubes of pan-fried, beet green-filled polenta.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Puréed vegetable soups without cream or starch of any sort can occasionally leave us sighing with boredom, but this soup has some truly great flavor to carry it. It's a pain to peel the beets with gloves, sure, but once they're all roasted, they purée nicely and quickly with some stock. The resulting soup has a straightforward flavor that makes you feel virtuous. Plate the soup in a shallow bowl to keep the polenta croutons from sinking, and be generous with the pistachio vinaigrette, which adds some texture and zing. Here's a way for beet lovers to enjoy their favorite kind of soup—even in the summertime. —The Editors
broth (chicken or vegetable)
nutty, Dutch cheese (aged gouda), shredded
beet greens (or chard), finely chopped
Roasted Beet Soup
beets, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (use gloves to keep your hands from getting stained)
small onion, quartered
garlic cloves in peels
chicken or vegetable broth
roasted, salted pistachios (I use the Everybody's Nuts Salt & Pepper)
Bring broth and water to a simmer and slowly add cornmeal, whisking until incorporated. Stir continuously for about 10 to 12 minutes until mixture has thickened and pulls away from the pot. Stir in greens for a couple minutes until wilted. Add cheese and butter and stir until cheese has melted.
Pour mixture into a buttered 9-x-9-inch baking dish, let cool slightly, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool.
Remove plastic, run a knife around the edge of the pan, and invert onto a cutting board. Cut into squares and brown in a pan with your choice of oil or butter. Alternately, the squares can be brushed with a bit of oil or melted butter and broiled until brown
Roasted Beet Soup
Heat oven to 400° F.
Toss beets, onion, and garlic with olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. If you use red and golden beets, keep them separate on the pan. Sprinkle with salt and thyme sprigs. Roast 45 to 60 minutes (until beginning to brown), stirring a couple times, and removing garlic about halfway through.
Peel garlic and add it with beets, onion and broth to a blender and blend until smooth (again, you can do the beets separately just by dividing the onion/garlic/broth). I used about 4 1/2 cups of the broth, but you might want it a bit thicker or thinner. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add to a pot (or two) to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Rinse blender and add pistachios, 1/4 cup of the orange juice, 1 tablespoon of the zest, the vinegar, and oil. Pulse to blend and season with salt and pepper. Alternately, you can hand chop the nuts and parsley and just mix with the oil and vinegar which might make a prettier drizzle.
Pour soup into a bowl, drizzle with vinaigrette and sour cream, and top with just-cooked croutons.
*This soup could be made vegan by using vegetable stock in the soup and by omitting the cheese and butter in the polenta.