August 4th, 2011

Chilled Golden Beet & Ginger Soup

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Serves 8

Chilled Golden Beet Soup

I’m going to stick up for conversations about the weather. I like them. I don’t mind listening to your humidity report, in fact I find it fascinating. Sunshowers, hail, tornadoes, and even the not-so-extreme like “Omigod it was really hot today.” I don’t see the big deal or why weather got such a bad reputation. After all, it dictates our lives. And it really really dictates our food.

From practical things, like how the finicky spring weather affects our gardens, to the emotional things, like how rainy days make you crave soup or a sweltering day has you revving up the blender for smoothies. And that’s what makes this soup at first so…confusing.

I’ve never really gone in for cold soups. Even gazpacho has to get me on a really good day in order for me to enjoy it. But a few elements came together that had me eating a chilled soup and loving it. For one, the beets. I picked them up at the farmer’s market and kind of neglected them. I knew I would roast them, but ugh, turning on the oven! So I decided to roast them at night when it was cooler; they could work away like elves in the kitchen, while I watched my reality TV. Slow roasting them at a moderate temperature didn’t raise the heat in the house too much, and the fact that I didn’t have to check on them very often helped too.

Once they were done it was too late to eat, so I put them in the fridge and planned to slice them up for salads during the week. But who eats that many beet salads? Soup made much more sense.

But it was too hot for a soup! And yet, I was craving one of my favorite combos: coconut/lime/ginger/root veggie. And so I said fork it. And I’m glad I did because now I’ve gotten to have two of my favorite things – a gingery root veg soup and a long-ass conversation about the weather. Plus, I discovered a new love…chilled soup!

This soup is smooth and velvetty is just as refreshing as a run through your neighbor’s sprinklers on a hot summer day. Although beets don’t usually make you think “summer,” they are in season right now, and the tropical flavors just make sense. Golden beets taste like the old reliable red beet went out dancing with a butternut squash way past curfew. It’s got that great earthy backdrop, but a tangy sweetness is the first taste. I like to top it off with a few dots of Sriracha.

2 lbs yellow beets, trimmed and scrubbed
1 15 oz can lite coconut milk
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon agave or pure maple syrup (optional)

For garnish:
Thinly sliced scallions

The hardest part of this recipe is roasting the beets, and that’s not even hard, it just takes a while. Look for beets that are somewhere between the size of a golfball and a tennis ball, so that they roast quickly and evenly.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Wrap the scrubbed beets individually in tin foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about an hour, turning once about halfway through. Beets are ready when very easily pierced with a steak knife.

Let them cool (still in the tinfoil) for about an hour.  They’ll keep softening as they cool, and that is good! Place in the fridge to cool completely.

Once cool, unwrap the beets, slide off the peel, and place in a blender or food processor. Add the coconut milk, lime juice and salt and puree until relatively smooth.

Preheat a small pan over medium-low heat, and saute the ginger and garlic for no more than a minute, being careful not to burn. Add 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth to deglaze the pan, and turn off the heat.

Transfer the garlic/ginger/veg broth mixture to the food processor, and puree until very smooth and velvetty. Taste for salt and seasonings, and add a tiny bit of agave or maple syrup if you’d like it a tad sweeter.

Place in the fridge (while still in the blender) and chill for at least an hour. It should be cold all the way through. If it’s too thick, add up to another 1/2 cup vegetable broth and blend again.

Serve topped with scallions and dotted with Sriracha.

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