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Author Notes: I spotted this recipe in the first volume of the Canal House Cooking series. I don't remember why I decided to try it, because I don't much care for beets, and I usually go to great lengths to avoid them. It was probably the beautiful full page color photograph that I found so enticing. At any rate, the recipe really delivered, far surpassing my expectations. I was amazed that anything made with beets could not only be edible, but turned out to be one of the most unusual and delicious cold soups I have ever tasted. Melissa Hamilton of Canal House says that her mother, Madeleine, found the recipe in a soup book, and sent it to her in 1988 with a note urging her to try it. P.S. 3 cups sour cream is not a typo, and the soup will have a brilliant technicolor raspberry hue. —JohnL
- 4 medium beets, trimmed
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1/2 small white onion, chopped
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 3 cups sour cream
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Minced fresh dill or chives
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Wrap each beet in aluminum foil and roast in the oven until tender, about 1 hour. Take the beets out of the oven, unwrap one, and pierce it with a knife to check if it is tender.
- When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel (the skins will slide right off) and dice them. Put the beets in a big bowl. Add the cucumber, onions, bread crumbs, sour cream (reserve a little for serving), mustard, heavy cream, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. Mix well.
- Working in batches, puree the beet mixture in a blender until smooth. Use up to 1/4 cup water to thin the soup. Season with salt. Transfer to a covered container and allow the flavors to develop in the refrigerator overnight or up to 3 days. This soup improves with time.
- Serve the soup in chilled soup bowls or pretty glasses. (John's suggestion: I like to serve this soup in crystal bowls, as a first course, as it is very rich. In this way, it will provide more than 4 servings). Garnish with a spoonful of sour cream or a drizzle of heavy cream, and minced fresh dill or chives.