Best Roasted Beet Soup
Yeah, yeah, another "best" thing, so she says.
This is not borscht, but a beet soup.
Traditional Russian Borscht has meat bones and/or beef stock in it and though delicious, I wanted a total vegetarian soup.
I experimented a bit, by using some chopped preserved lemon in with the vegetables, and it paid off.
The soup became bright with flavors of lemon and allspice, earthy from the beets and smooth and creamy with a swirl of creme fraiche at the end.
A few suggestions here:
I used my homemade chicken stock, which I stock up and freeze all winter long (and boy, was it long), and that just makes a better tasting soup. But if you have to, use Swanson's 33% less sodium stock in the box, it will do in a pinch.
Don't skip the preserved lemon. You can find them in a jar at any Middle Eastern market, by mail order, or at Whole Foods. A little goes a long way. They are nothing like fresh lemons because they have been brined in salt and they impart a complex, wonderful lemon taste to tagines and other dishes.
Do not try and use an immersion blender like I did to puree your soup, it will spatter and create a bloody mess all over your counter and cabinets!
Use a blender instead (aren't you glad I tried it out for you first?).
This soup is time consuming, but is worth it.
This would be great to serve for Easter or Passover as beet shooters, served in shot glasses as a first course.
Best Roasted Beet Soup: (makes 12 shot glasses as a first course)
3 medium size red ace beets
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 preserved lemon (see sources), rind only, chopped
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 1/2 - 3 cups best quality chicken stock (preferably homemade)
1 fresh thyme sprig
salt & pepper
creme fraiche for finishing
Start by roasting your beets. Trim and wash the beets, saving the leaves for another use.
Place in foil packet and drizzle with olive oil and kosher salt. Seal up the foil package tight.
Roast for 1 hour at 400F.
When cool enough to handle, slip off skins and dice the beets into 1/2" pieces.
(you can roast the beets the day before if you like).
In a large heavy stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the butter w/ olive oil on medium heat.
Throw in the onions, carrots, diced beets, & chopped preserved lemon. Cook about 5 minutes until the onions are starting to soften.
Add in the spices to coat and cook the vegetables another 5 minutes or so, stirring the entire time.
Add in the chicken broth and the thyme sprig and simmer for about 25 minutes until all the vegetables are tender.
Let the soup cool and transfer to a blender. Puree for a minute or two until you get the consistency you like.
Ladle into bowls or shot glasses and place a dollop of creme fraiche on top.
Swirl the creme into the soup for a nice effect (don't skip this part, you can also add yogurt if you are concerned about a few calories).
Garnish with a thyme sprig and serve warm.