Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Beet Soup (don't be afraid!)

I just love Autumn! We've finally begun to snap out of the Indian Summer we are courting, and allowed the chill to enter the air - and finally I can start to plan menus that involve some heavier flavors and longer cooking times. Plus, having the leaves changing colors brings on some much needed inspiration into my everyday cooking.

At the market this weekend, I spotted some very nice looking beets - firm and dark red with robust looking leafy greens attached. I hurriedly plucked them from their spot on the shelf - not really thinking about what I would do with them. The last time fresh beets were in my kitchen, I transformed them into tasty little
ravioli. This time I desperately wanted to make a soup.

So, I did.

BEET SOUP (served in a roasted acorn squash "bowl")

5 medium beets, peeled* and diced
1 red-skinned tart apple, peeled and diced
1 smallish red onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock (I used chicken stock, because I do not like the taste of veggie stock)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

If serving in an acorn squash bowl: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the top off the squash, and hollow out the insides. (if needed, take a little off the bottom, so that the bowl is stable) Place on a cookie sheet, brush a little olive oil into the cavities and season with salt. Roast for approximately 60 minutes, or until the flesh is tender. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pot and cook onion and garlic until the onion becomes translucent. Add apple and beets and cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring often. Add stock and let simmer for about an hour, or until the beets are fork tender. Remove from heat and add vinegar and brown sugar.

Blend soup with either an immersion blender or a food processor. (I used an immersion blender first and then had to clean off the wall! A food processor is a little less messy believe it or not!) Add water to achieve the consistency you like. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

*Unless you want red hands, invest in some disposable latex or fitted plastic gloves...beets will stain just about anything they come in contact with including skin and cutting boards! You were warned!!! I will be rocking the purple handed look tomorrow at work.

I was blown away at first bite! The beet soup was sweet, yet had a hint of tartness from the vinegar - and the flavor of the overall dish was subtle and delicious. The color was so vibrant and beautiful that I almost didn't want to dip my spoon into it. Using the acorn squash (my favorite of all the squashes) was awesome, because it gave the meal a little more substance as well as a bit of whimsy. The flesh of the squash went so well with the soup itself. The next time I make this, I may add a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt to richen the soup up just a bit.

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