Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Not Quite Beetroot Soup

Not-quite-beetroot soup, the finished soup has the tartness of tomato, fragrance of the roasted pepper, and sweetness of the beetroot combined. It doesn't taste predominantly of beet, yet it does have its lush red color. I like to use a dash of smoked paprika powder (or even ground chipotle). This soup is ideally made with equal parts each of beetroot, red capsicum, and tomatoes. Even more ideally, the beetroot and capsicum are roasted first, to release their natural sugars and add a deeper flavor to the finished soup. As an appetizer (hot or cold) this soup is both a palate cleanser and teaser for more to come. It is a pretty soup, flavorsome, and intriguing. Your dinner guests will love it.

In this recipe: suggestions for a three-course dinner party.

Not Quite Beetroot Soup
recipe for 3-4 appetizer cup

1 medium beetroot 
1 red capsicum
3 ripe (roma) tomatoes
1 medium/small red onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tsp paprika powder (smoked paprika if you like)
juice of half a lemon (or to taste!)
2-3 cups water
tbsp olive oil
  • Roast the beetroot and red capsicum in a hot oven for 30 minutes. Turn regularly. Put the charred capsicum in a plastic bag to loosen the skin.
  • Peel beetroot and dice. Peel, clean, and dice the capsicum. Peel the tomato and dice small. Chop the onions fine.
  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a casserole and add the onions. Lower the temperature if the onions sizzle too much (you want to gently sweat the onions until they softened, about 5 minutes). 
  • Add the beetroot and capsicum, cook with the onions for about 5 minutes (low heat)
  • Add the tomatoes, the garlic, and the spices. Bring the heat up to high and stir everything around for 1-2 minutes. 
  • Add enough water to cover (but not so it swims too much).
  • Simmer for about 20 minutes
  • With a hand-held blender, puree the soup until smooth. Add lemon juice to taste.
  • Serve hot with a dollop of thick cream. Or chilled with a garnish of fresh herbs (basil, koriander, and mint work wonderful) or even edible flowers.
Make a light supper of this flavorful soup with crisp, hot crusty bread and a selection of goat cheese

Suggestions for a Dinner Party
For a vegetarian dinner party, start with the enticing flavors of the Not Quite Beetroot Soup, and follow with a beautifully plated Pea & Okra Barley, topped with hearty pan-fried mushrooms (porcini, sliced king oyster mushroom, or even just button mushrooms), and finish with roasted peaches and a lush custard.

Of course, the colorful flavorsome soup does equally well as appetizer for  a meat main like Braised Lamb Shanks or Orange, Sage & Fennel Roasted Pork Shoulder

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