Saturday, December 5, 2009

a beet soup story - and a delicious afternoon.

I was going to make a different soup today.. until I went to the farmer's market and bought these beets.. I remembered a recipe I read from Deborah Madison's Kitchens Cookbooks (and changed it of course). These beets were so beautiful.. and the soup was described by my lunch guests as "earthy-sweet," "soul-quenching," "homemade," and "ephemeral," with a "tropical-evergreen splash."
I especially like that this recipe uses the entire beet - the roots, stems, and leaves. There are two steps to this dish.. Making the stock, then the soup - but overall, it's pretty simple. I did it.

Ingredients for stock:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup leek greens and roots, well washed
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
3 bay leaves
pinch of dried thyme, or a fresh sprig
few pinches of dried oregano, or a fresh branch
3 cloves garlic, smashed
stems from 1 bunch of red beets
handful of lentils
1 tsp sea salt
6 cups filtered water

Ingredients for soup:
2 tbsp olive oil
3 small leeks (I just used one big one), sliced into rounds
1 onion, finely diced
2 smallish carrots, thinly sliced
6 small beets (or one bunch from the farmer's market), peeled and cut into wedges a scant 1/2 inch wide
3 small bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried oregano
pinch of ground allspice or anise seeds (I used the anise..)
a couple more garlic cloves, minced
sea salt and ground pepper
1 tbsp honey

Ingredients for topping:
beet greens, chopped
1 lemon, quartered

Once you've collected all your ingredients, and you'll probably already have most of them.. All I needed to buy were the beets.. and I was out of yellow onions, so I needed those anyway... you can begin.

I think I'll just paraphrase/quote Deborah Madison.. (it's on page 185 of her book Vegetable Soups)

"1. To make the stock, heat the oil in a pot, add leek greens and roots, onion, carrot, celery, herbs, and garlic. Give everything a stir and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables take on a little color. Add the rest of the stock ingredients including the salt and water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat simmering gently for no longer than 30 minutes (it will go from red to brown at this point). As you peel the beets, be sure to add the peels, along with any other vegetable trimmings along the way."

"2. While the stock is cooling, heat the oil in a wide soup pot. Add the soup vegetables, bay leaves, oregano, anise, and garlic. Stir to coat then cook over medium heat for 12-15 minutes. Add a pinch more salt, the honey, and then strain the stock directly into the soup pot. Simmer partially covered until the beets are tender but not mushy, 20-25 minutes, Taste for salt and season with pepper."

"3. Cook the beet greens in a little water with a pinch of salt until tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain. Ladle the soup into bowls and add a clump of greens to each. Serve with lemon on the side..."

(Ingredients I took out were a can of organic diced tomatoes, sour cream, butter, & brown sugar - encase you wanted to know what you were missing)

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