Pickled beetroot has a lot to answer for. While I quite like it to snack on when the fridge has nothing else in it to keep hunger pangs at bay mid afternoon (this is usually the week before payday when I live off the many, many frozen meals in the freezer), it doesn’t come close to the tastiness of fresh beetroot thats not been dumped in a vat of vinegar. Luckily for me I usually have nicer things to snack on such as chocolate Philly or grapes. To my shame, I didn’t even realise beetroot could come in any other forms until a few years ago when a friend randomly pulled some out of her garden, boiled them up and peeled them, and then we greedily wolfed them down. I had thought this behaviour very weird and expected them to be vile, but it was a revelation to me and may be the only vegetable that I can eat in its purest form – no sauces, no gravy, no salt, no meat to pair it with, as it just doesn’t need it. It’s so good, and its rare that I say that about an ingredient which isn’t a) sugar, or b) chocolate.
Todays recipe made the most of the flavour of beetroot. It was beetroot and apple borscht with sour cream and feta from Delicious March 2010 and while the flavour was indeed delicious, the colour of it was easily the best thing about it. It’s a soup made for Barbie dolls and princesses but don’t let that put you off butch men and non-royal ladies. Borchst is typically a soup from the Ukraine, and in this recipe is paired with soft, salty feta cheese from Greece so if you wanted to sound posh and cultural you could call this fusion food. I call it beetroot soup, as I am neither posh nor cultural, despite my best efforts. While making this I had to don some sandwich bags on my hands (rubber gloves were ruined by the rabbit bolognese) to prevent some serious staining as I’m sure you know that everything beetroot touches it stains bright pink. My wooden chopping board now has a nice pink hue, but so long as it’s not on my clothes or hands I can live with this. The soup is really easy to make, it just involves chopping beetroot, apple, carrot, celery, onion and garlic, chucking it in a saucepan and then adding vegetable stock. Cook for 45 mins, blitz in a blender, dollop on some sour cream and feta cubes and you’re done. Easy peasy. The mellow, earthy taste of the beetroot goes really well with the feta and the sour cream balances everything so nothing is too sweet or too salty. On a miserable rainy day like today, this vibrant soup brings a bit of sunshine into the kitchen and is comforting, tasty and healthy too. What more could you ask from a soup? I love as well how when you dollop the sour cream into the soup, the pinky purple soup inks into the cream and looks (in my food obsessed eyes anyway) beautiful and like something you’d see in a posh restaurant. But my plating skills aren’t up to scratch so the illusion fades pretty quickly. In the blender the soup also looks suspiciously like raspberry coulis, but don’t be fooled. Great soup, showcasing the fabulous flavour of beetroot. Don’t let the picked stuff put you off, give it a go and I’m sure you’ll be delighted.