Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cold Beetroot Soup

  • “What is this?
  • It’s a turnip.
  • No, it’s not. That can’t be no turnip.
  • The poor baby turnips. Nobody likes them, you know? Of course. Life is easy if you are a truffle or a shiitake mushroom. But the turnip is to be loved…because she is a self-made woman of a vegetable. All the others you can only destroy with cooking. But the turnip she gets better. So, you see, it’s not how you start…but how you finish.”
From “Last Holiday”.

If I could add another vegetable to that group of unloved and underestimated vegetables it would be beetroot.  I think European taste was spoiled by mass produced pickled beetroot, I did try it once and it tasted absolutely horrible. Overcooked pieces of something that can be hardly identified as beetroot swimming in a sea of vinegar. No wonder the majority of people I know avoid that vegetable like fire.
However eastern Europeans love their beetroot dishes and I’m one of them. Salads, soups, risotto with beetroot, chocolate cakes and brownies, healthy smoothies, the possibilities are endless.

This cold beetroot soup (Kholodnik)  is originally from Belorussia and like any national dish has lots of varieties, depending on what vegetables are available. Some add onions and celery to it but I don’t like to overdo it with lots of ingredients so I choose only a few.

A very refreshing and nourishing summer dish, that can be prepared in advance and put together at the last minute. Great for summer lunches, and I absolutely love the vibrant colour!

  1. Roasted beetroots
  2. Cucumbers
  3. Beetroot stock
  4. Spring onions
  5. Dill
  6. Hard boiled eggs
  7. Sourcream
  8. Salt

Roast a few beetroots in advance and keep them in your fridge. They can always be used for salads.
Wash beetroot; pat  dry; rub with a little olive oil; and roast in a large roasting tin for approximately 40 minutes. Check with a sharp knife if the vegetables are cooked through.
Choose medium size beetroot as they cook quicker.

For beetroot stock, wash and peel 3 medium sized beetroots and chop into small pieces. Cover with 1,5 litres of water, bring to the boil, cook for 5 minutes, turn the gas off and let it stand until completely cooled. Discard cooked beetroot and keep the stock only. Store it in the fridge.

All the ingredients for this soup should be well chilled.
Coarsely grate the beetroot (allow half a beetroot and half a cucumber per portion), finely chop the cucumbers, spring onions and dill. Cut eggs in halves.

You can mix all the vegetables and herbs in a large bowl with some sour cream, season well with salt and spoon into a soup bowl.
Pour in some of the beetroot stock and put half and egg into each bowl.