Beets this time of year are so tender and sweet – I bought a bunch the other day at the farmer’s market and they cried out to me, “Please puree me into a velvety soup that tastes decadent but is really (gasp!) quite healthy.” Really, they said that. (And OK, maybe the buttery croutons aren’t 100% healthy, but you could always omit them. I did use multigrain bread.)
I roasted the beets a couple of days before to save time. Roasted, peeled beets will keep in your fridge for at least 2-3 days. You could also omit the thyme and add a dash of garam masala or curry powder, or a touch of cumin. And instead of croutons you could chiffonade some beet greens as a lovely garnish. Or add a swirl of crème fraîche, sour cream, or yogurt. Or a few drops of extra virgin olive oil and perhaps some sunflower seeds? It’s really quite a versatile soup. Oh, and did I mention that it can be served hot or cold?
Using a blender instead of a food processor will result in a much smoother puree.
(Serves 4 as an appetizer; 2-3 as a main dish)
For the Beet Soup:
3 medium-sized golden beets, washed and trimmed
2 tablespoons coconut or extra virgin olive oil
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 large shallots, peeled and chopped
1 large sprig fresh thyme, leaves removed and stem discarded
1 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups water
Pinch cayenne pepper
Juice of 1/2 a lime or lemon
For the Buttery Croutons:
2 slices multigrain or whole-wheat bread, crusts removed
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon coconut or extra virgin olive oil
Special Equipment: Blender or food processor
For the Soup:
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Wrap the trimmed beats in tinfoil and roast directly on the rack in the oven for 45 minutes or longer, or until the beets feel tender and are easily pierced with the tip of a pairing knife.
- Let the beets cool, then slip the skins off and chop into 2-inch chunks.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut or extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the celery, shallots, and a small pinch of salt and stir to coat. Continue to cook and stir until the celery and shallots soften, about 8-10 minutes. Reduce the heat if the vegetables start to brown.
- Add the thyme leaves and garlic. Cook and stir for another 1-2 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the chopped beets and the water. Simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and to soften the vegetables further.
- Remove from heat and puree (in batches, if necessary) in the blender or food processor. (Take care blending hot liquids! Steam can make the blender lid fly off. Trust me.) Check for consistency – if too thick, add a bit more water. (If it’s too thin for your taste, you can always return the puree to a pot and cook over low heat for a few more minutes until the soup is of the consistency you dream of.)
- Stir in the lime or lemon juice and a pinch of cayenne (to taste). Taste and correct for salt.
For the Croutons:
- Cut the bread into even-sized cubes as big or small as you like (mine were about 1/2 inch).
- In a small, heavy saucepan, heat the butter and coconut or extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until the butter stops foaming. Add the bread cubes and a pinch of salt and toss to coat. Cook and stir (or continue tossing) until the bread cubes are crispy and golden brown. Drain briefly on paper towels.
- Ladle out a serving of soup into a bowl and top with croutons, or with your desired topping of choice (see above).