Beets are a nutritional powerhouse. Adding flair to a soup made with pureed beets is just a matter of finishing the deep magenta liquid with a dollop of thick Greek-style yogurt (rather than sour cream), a swirl of sweet-tangy currant gastrique, and a drizzle of exotic-tasting dukkah, an Egyptian spice mixture that includes chopped pistachios. If cryovac-packed roasted and peeled beets are available, it can be made very quickly.
This recipe was inspired by a meal at Acorn, chef Rachel DeMuth’s renowned vegetarian restaurant in Bath, England, which featured earthy roasted beet salad with cassis sorbet seasoned with dukkah. Like many appealing soups, this one has layers of flavors and plenty of visual drama.
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Yield: 6 cups
Prep time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Shelf life: at least 1 week
6 medium beets, scrubbed and trimmed
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons dukkah (recipe follows)
2/3 cup chopped onion
4 to 5 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup orange juice
For the gastrique drizzle:
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 small shallots, sliced
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons black or red currant jelly
1/4 cup water
4 to 6 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
For the dukkah:
Note: Dukkah can be made with pistachios, hazelnuts, or even almonds.
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper or black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped pistachios, lightly toasted
salt, if nuts are unsalted
- Heat the oven to 400 F.
- Brush the beets with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and tightly seal in aluminum. Roast in a flat pan until completely tender when pricked with the tip of a knife, at least 50 or 60 minutes. Remove, cool, peel, and roughly chop. Amount should yield just under 4 cups.
- While the beets roast, prepare the dukkah. In a skillet over medium-high, toast the sesame seeds, black pepper, and fennel until fragrant and the seeds are pale golden, 2 to 3 minutes, shaking the pan often. Sprinkle in the coriander and cumin, cook for 30 seconds, then quickly scrape into a small bowl along with the pistachios and let cool. Using a mortar and pestle or a clean coffee grinder, grind the mixture into a coarse-textured powder. Set aside.
- In a small skillet over low, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil, add the onion, partially cover, and sweat until softened and just starting to color, about 5 minutes. Scrape into the jar of an electric blender.
- Prepare the gastrique: In the same skillet over low, add 2 teaspoons of oil and the shallot and saute until softened and lightly colored. In a 4-cup glass measuring cup, combine the shallot with the balsamic vinegar, currant jelly, and water. Microwave on high until the mixture has reduced by half, or gently boil in a small saucepan. Remove and strain.
- In an electric blender, combine the beets with the softened onion, the stock, and 2 teaspoons of olive oil and puree until smooth. Transfer to a medium-size saucepan, add the orange juice, and season with salt and pepper; heat through.
- To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, add a dollop of yogurt, sprinkle the dukkah around the outside and drizzle on the currant gastrique.