Chilled Beetroot Soup

Maggie and Richard served this delicious chilled soup when we were staying them last year in St Germain en Laye, on the outskirts of Paris.

Richard, who was chef that day, said the recipe came from Honey & Co. As per the recipe he garnished the soup with roasted yellow beetroot, diced and mixed with a crushed clove of garlic, chopped fresh oregano and a splash each of lemon juice and olive oil. This made a spectacular contrast. Unfortunately I didn’t have any yellow beetroot, so just used yoghurt and some chives as a garnish.

The original recipe says to roast the beetroots on a bed of salt, but as you’re going to peel them I decided this wasn’t going to make a huge difference to the end result. I just sprinkled them generously with salt before roasting.

This soup goes down a treat at a relaxed weekend lunch in late summer.

6-8 beetroot (a bit over half a kg)
2 tsp salt for sprinkling on the beetroot
2 cups plain Greek-style yoghurt
Between 1 and 2 cups cold water
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 clove garlic, crushed (2 if small)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbs olive oil
To serve:
Diced roasted yellow beetroot (optional)
Plain Greek-style yoghurt
Snipped chives

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Wash beetroot, but leave whole and unpeeled. Place on a baking tray lined with foil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for an hour or until tender. When cool enough to handle peel the beetroot. Grate very coarsely – a Magimix with a coarse grating blade makes short work of this.

Mix beetroot with remaining ingredients then chill until serving time. Add one cup of water first and see if it needs more. Serve garnished with a dollop of yoghurt and the yellow beetroot, if available.

Serves 4-6

Roasted Beetroot with Avocado

At this time of year we have lots of vegetables in the garden, including tomatoes, zucchini, beetroot and basil. So Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes, with their strong bias towards veggies, are perfect.

We’ve been eating so many of his amazing recipes lately that Matthew says he wouldn’t be surprised to walk into the kitchen and find the man himself.

This week I made his Roasted Beetroot with Yoghurt and Preserved Lemon which I served for lunch with avocado. We sat in the garden under the olive tree sipping a glass of chilled white wine and enjoying this delicious, not to mention healthy, combination.

If you don’t have any preserved lemon, just leave it out or add some grated lemon rind. I used fresh marjoram instead of dill, but you could also use fresh basil or chives.

1 kg beetroot
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 small preserved lemon, chopped, seeds discarded
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs chopped fresh dill (or use marjoram, basil or chives)
1 Tbs Tahini
¾ cup Greek style plain yoghurt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ripe avocados

Preheat oven to 200°C. Wash and dry beetroots, but leave skin on. Wrap each one in foil then bake for about an hour or until tender. Test with a sharp knife or skewer. When cool enough to handle, peel and slice into a large mixing bowl.

Heat olive oil and cumin seeds for a few minutes in a small frying pan, until seeds start to pop, then tip over the beetroot. Add the onion, preserved lemon, lemon juice, half the herbs and season to taste. Mix well then transfer to a shallow serving dish.

Mix the Tahini into the yoghurt then put blobs all over the top. Peel and dice the avocados and arrange around the edge of the plate. Garnish with the rest of the herbs.

Serves 4

Beetroot & Goat’s Cheese Salad

Beetroot is an excellent source of antioxidants and nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, sodium and Vitamin C.  The Olympic athletes in London this year drank concentrated beetroot energy drinks in little shot bottles and as you can imagine the company which makes them is going from strength to strength.

I don’t much like canned beetroot, but I’ve always been a fan of fresh beetroot.  Until a few years ago I only knew how to boil it and serve it in salads, doused with a little vinegar. Now I prefer to roast it with some olive oil.

This is another recipe from the November issue of Delicious which I halved to serve two and adapted a bit to speed things up.

Beetroot and Goat’s Cheese Salad

2-3 small beetroots
1 Tbs olive oil
1 head of endive (witlof) trimmed and leaves separated)
1 stalk rhubarb
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs water
1 cup home-made croutons (use sourdough or French baguette)
120g soft goat’s cheese (I used small log-shaped packet) sliced
Some pea shoots or cress to garnish
Extra virgin olive oil to serve

Wine dressing:
½ cup red wine
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs sugar
4 pickling onions or shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
freshly ground black pepper

Turn oven to 180°C.  Peel beetroots, cut in halves, then cut each half into four, so you have 8 wedges from each beetroot.  Place in a baking dish, drizzle with oil, mix then bake for about 30 mins or until just tender.  Halfway through cooking time remove from the oven and stir. When cooked remove from oven and cool.

Meanwhile trim rhubarb, cut into 6cm lengths, then slice thinly lengthwise.  Heat water, sugar and lemon juice and when boiling and sugar has dissolved add rhubarb.  Let it come to the boil again then turn off heat – the sticks should maintain their shape so don’t overcook.  Drain rhubarb and keep the liquid in the pan.  To this liquid add all the ingredients for the wine sauce. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10-12 mins or until syrupy. Remove onions and separate them into petals.  Discard star anise.

To serve, drizzle some of the wine sauce on two serving plates, then mix the rest with the beetroot.  Arrange about five endive (witlof) leaves on each plate, then the beetroot wedges, croutons, goats cheese, rhubarb, shallots and pea shoots.  Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.

Serves 2