I rediscovered beets* a few years ago, when we started with our first CSA. We got lots of them during certain times of the year, so I have quite a few creative uses for them.
* I first discovered them during an extra-curricular middle school trip to Russia, during my first go-round as a vegetarian. The choice at meals was often beets or meat. I was back to eating meat by the end of the trip, I was so sick of beets.
One of my favorites is a simple beet soup with herbs and a dollop of crème fraîche to finish it off. The sweetness of the beets is complemented by the herbs and offset beautifully by the tangy crème fraîche.
This time around, I didn’t have crème fraîche, but I did have a tub of Greek yogurt, which I’ve often substituted. It’s just as good, as far as I’m concerned, so no need for an extra trip to the store!
Roasted Beet Soup with Crème Fraîche
Original recipe from Bon Appetit, February 2005, with my modifications
3 medium beets
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs olive oil
1 leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped
1 small onion, thinly sliced
dash of ground ginger
dash of ground allspice
dash of ground white pepper
2 cups water
1 small bay leaf
1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 Tbs crème fraîche or Greek yogurt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Wrap the beets in foil and roast until tender when pierced with fork, about 1 hour. Once the beets are cool, the skins slip off easily (use a paper towel to make quick work of it). Cut the peeled beets into approximately 1/2-inch cubes.
Melt the butter with the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek and onion and cook until beginning to brown, stirring frequently. Stir in the ginger, allspice, white pepper, Herbes de Provence, and beets. Cook until the vegetables begin to stick to bottom of pot, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add 2 cups water and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the beets are very tender, about 25 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf. Cool the soup slightly. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender with cream (or use an immersion blender). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently rewarm the soup, and divide between 2 bowls. Add a dollop of crème fraîche or Greek yogurt to each bowl. Garnish with an additional sprinkle of Herbes de Provence.