Available throughout the winter fresh English beetroot comes in a myriad of shapes, sizes and colours. Packed with essential minerals and vitamins it’s a wonderfully versatile ingredient that can be eaten raw, marinated, boiled, baked or roasted.
Cut or peeled beetroot has a tendency to bleed during cooking, losing precious nutrients, diluting its vibrant colour and impairing both its flavour and texture, so it’s imperative that the beetroot is cooked whole, in its skin. In this wonderfully satisfying soup the beetroot is baked whole in foil with a hint of garlic & thyme to intensify its sweet earthy flavour. Once cooked, leave them wrapped in the foil until cool enough to handle, then unwrap and slide off the skin with the help of a sharp knife.
Your baked beetroot should now be extremely soft and needs little more than a good stock and competent liquidiser to turn it into a satisfying bowl of soup. Having said that a splash of sherry vinegar, a dollop of crème fraiche and some aromatic toasted cumin will add just enough acidity, sourness, and spice to really make this simple soup shine.
This soup is a firm favourite of the chefs at The Guildford Arms and can often be found on the menu there.
Beetroot Soup with Toasted Cumin & Crème Fraiche – serves 4
Splash olive oil
2 shallots – thinly sliced
2cl garlic- thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1kg of raw beetroots – washed
1litre chicken or vegetable stock
Splash sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted cumin
- Wrap the beetroots individually in foil with a sprig of thyme & sliver of garlic in each parcel.
- Bake at 180C for about 2 hours or until the largest one feels soft when squeezed.
Sweat the shallots in the olive oil with a generous pinch of salt until they soften.
- Add the remaining garlic, bay leaf & a sprig of thyme & cook for 1 minute. Add the stock & bring to a simmer. Remove the thyme & bay leaf.
- When the beetroot is cool enough to handle, peel & roughly dice.
- Pour off a quarter of the stock into a jug and set aside. Liquidise the beetroot with the remaining stock until completely smooth.
- Return to the pot and bring back to a simmer adding just enough of the reserved stock to get the perfect consistency.
- Season to taste & stir in the sherry vinegar, tasting as you go to get the balance of acidity that is right for you.
- Serve with dollop of crème fraiche and a sprinkling of cumin seeds.