Chilled Beet Soup

Perfect for starting a long evening of eating and drinking. Low in calories, this modern take on borscht uses up the beets, beet green for a deep earthy flavor, that is, if you can look beyond the beautiful colors it produces. I occasionally mix and match type of beets to vary the flavor but chefs be aware: Using a combination of gold and red beets turns the soup into a muddy brown color, making it less than appetizing to the eye.

I serve this delicacy with a dollop of non-fat Greek yogurt, fresh dill and butter croutons and a splash of olive oil to complement the taste. You can use sour cream and croutons from dark rye bread as a variation. Dill remains though. It really brings out the flavors in this dish. Best to use fresh dill.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch red beets with greens intact (approximately 2 lbs)
  • 1 medium red onion, quartered
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1.5 tsp. caraway seeds (or cumin seeds)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 5 medium cloves of garlic
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 oz. baguette slices cubed (or 1-2 thick slices of good, rustic bread)
  • 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill (or few teaspoons of dried)

Makes about 8 cups and usually serves 8-10 people. Takes about 15 minutes to do the prep work (cutting, chopping). Spare another 1.5 hours for the cooking part, although it is not hands on for the most part.

Remove the beet stems and leaves. Wash the beets and the leaves well.

In a 4- to 6-quart sauce pan, combine the beets, onion, sugar, vinegar, caraway seeds and a teaspoon of salt. Add seven cups of water, cover and bring to boil over high heat. Then lower the heat to medium and cook covered, until beets are tender (when pierced with a fork), about 45 minutes to an hour.

In the meantime, very coarsely chop the stems and leaves. Once the beets are done, remove them from the pan from a slotted spoon and rest in a bowl to cool. Add the stems and leaves as well as the garlic to the pan and cook covered until stems are tender, no more than 10 minutes.

Peel the beets and return them to the pan. In a food processor (not the one with the bowl for mixing stuff but the one that decimates/blends/grates), puree the mixture in batches. Should take about 4-5 batches.

Over a large bowl, use a medium-mesh strainer and force the puree through. If you prefer a lighter body soup (like me), then use a finer mesh strainer, like a spider one and do not force the puree. It takes slightly longer and possibly more wasteful but the juices are more potent and without any pulp.

Taste the soup and season as needed with more salt and vinegar. Let the soup come to room temperature and then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Before serving, melt the butter in a 12-inch frying pan and crisp the baguette cubes to make croutons. While the croutons are still warm, plate the soup, decorate with a small dollop of yogurt, croutons, dill and drizzle of olive oil.

Here is the nutrition information on this recipe:

chilled beet soup

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