Just a couple of months ago, when I was going through the Soup section of the Tyrian menu, I realized that, as much as I love beets, I’ve never, at least not that I’m aware of it, had them in a soup’ish kind of context before. Well that’s one blank that should be filled in sooner rather than later, if you like the pretty purple bulbs, don’t you think? I decided to start the beet’y soup experience with a light and summery gazpacho when, just a couple of days after making GW2-induced beet soup-related plans, the first heatwave of this year’s summer hit the mark, rather than to go with the creamy, soul-food’y recipe I had initially picked out.
Well, it’s not like I didn’t do my homework plus some extra credit on the alternative routes through my recipe collection! I quickly twisted my plans around a little and created this wonderfully creamy and summery chilled soup. So here’s my very first beet soup, while not a warm and comfy one, hearty and satisfying nonetheless – thanks be to the Chef’s Guild, once again, for nudging me into the right direction! … With this:
And this is my version of it~
Just on a side note: for the first time my beloved purple background seems to be gnawing on my rear – the gazpacho is actually a deep, just slightly reddish tinged purple color, but the background seems to be intensifying the red and there’s absolutely nothing I could do about it without taking a major deep-dive into photoshop, messing with the photos in a way I wouldn’t want to.
For 4-6 servings of this, you’ll need~
550g fresh Beets, leaves removed about 2cm above the bulb itsself
Alt: 500g precooked, skinned Beets
250g ripe San Marzano or Campari Tomatoes
Alt: Canned San Marzanos – they’re probably easier to get than fresh ones. Added bonus: they’re already skinned
1 small Red Onion or 2 small Shallots, roughly chopped
½ red Bell Pepper, roughly chopped
½ Cucumber, roughly chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic, roughly chopped
1-2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt, freshly cracked Black Pepper and dried hot Chilli Flakes to taste
2 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
½ Tsp dried Oregano
½ Tsp dried Rosemary
3-4 leafy Sprigs of fresh Basil
Sheepsmilk Yoghurt or Light Crème Fraîche
Opt: Herbed Vegetable Stock – in case the soup turns out too thick for your taste
To garnish: 2 Tbsp each of finely diced Beetroot and Cucumber & small Basil Leaves
This soup can be prepped in two different ways, both delicious in their own right, one down the fast lane, using precooked beets and canned tomatoes, one prepared with more care and focus on the individual products used.
Option One: The Low And Slow Version
Going down this road, you will be using fresh tomatoes and beets, bringing out the best of both and intensifying their flavors along the way.
1) Carefully wash the beets to remove all soil-related things and pat them dry.
2) Line a large baking tray with baking parchment and set your oven to 180°C
3) Tightly wrap the beets in tin foil and set them onto the tray.
4) Place the tray in the oven as the temperature is rising and let it sit in there for 60 mins.
5) Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes in halves, dab the cutting surfaces with a few drops of olive oil, sprinkle them with a pinch of salt and get ready to add them to the tray around 60 mins into the oven-time of the beets.
6) Once the tomatoes are in, let the oven do its job for another 30 mins, then take out the tray, move the beets and tomatoes to a cooling rack or large plate and set it aside to let them cool off completely.
7) If you want to give the tomatoes yet another extra boost, don’t put them into the oven with the beets, line a seperate tray, quarter the tomatoes, drizzle them with oil and bake them at 100°C for 1 ½ hours. By doing this you’re basically oven-drying them, removing excess water to concentrate all the flavor in what’s left of them afterwards.
8) Unwrap the beets, slice them in halves and scoop the deliciously creamy interior out of the skins into the jug of your blender or into a high rimmed container, if you’re using a stick blender.
9) Add the tomatoes to the same jug or container – you could carefully remove the skins off of the tomatoes at this point – whenever I get to prep tomatoes that way I leave them on, though. Since they’re going to be thoroughly whizzed anyways, I don’t think a slightly smoother texture justifies the loss in roasting aromas and tomato’y punch – that’s a matter of personal preference though.
Option Two: The Speedy Version
1) Drain the canned tomatoes and pop them into your whizz-o-matic
2) Unwrap the precooked beets and have them join the tomatoes.
The Meeting of the Paths
No matter what you did to end up with your beets and tomatoes safely tucked away inside the blender, this is the common ground for both versions… Not that there’s much left to do.
1) Have a look-see at your cucumber. If the seedy parts are exceptionally watery, remove them before chopping up the rest. Adding those parts would most likely water down the soup too much. A bit of cucumber-related moisture is, of course, necessary to end up with a soup rather than a beetroot mash, so don’t remove all of it if the cucumber is on the „average“ side of moist.
2) Add the onion, bell pepper, cucumber, garlic, 1 of the 2 Tbsp of olive oil, sherry vinegar, chilli flakes, oregano and rosemary to the blender and season the lot with a generous pinch or two of salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
3) Blitz the ingredients until everything has merged into a smooth and silky soup.
4) Place the jug in the fridge to chill through for at least 2 hours.
5) Have a taste and adjust the seasoning. The beets swallow up a lot of salt and smother the chillies – a word on these though: don’t overspice this one, it’s not supposed to be a hot soup. The flakes are just supposed to add a little blip on the seasoning-rader, dot the i, so to speak. Stick to the „pinch“ and only add a tiny bit more if you really want to spice it up after the soup has had the time to develop the flavors.
6) If the gazpacho seems to sidle up to the term „purée“, leaving „soup“ behind, stir in some vegetable stock and pay some extra attention to re-adjusting the seasoning.
7) Finely chop the basil leaves and fold them into the soup.
8) Place the jug back in the fridge for at least another hour – until you’re ready to serve.
9) As you’re plating up, stir in the second tbsp of olive oil.
10) Dot the bowls with the yoghurt or light crème fraîche. Just on a side note, sheeps-/goatsmilk yoghurt or light crème fraîche work out the best in this combination because of their slightly acidic zing. Normal crème fraîche, greek or natural yoghurt are too heavy for the light and summery aromas in this gazpacho, so in case you can’t get your hands on either of those, skip the dairy entirely.
11) Garnish the servings with additional basil leaves and the finely diced beets and cucumbers.