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
medium beets, trimmed
cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
small white onion, chopped
fresh bread crumbs
Minced fresh dill or chives
In This Recipe
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.