An old Ukrainian proverb warns, “A tale that begins with a beet will end with the devil.” Well, autumnal soup lovers, I reckon that’s a risk we have to take, because I, for one, love a good beetroot soup!
Having heeded this warning from Tom Robbins’ book Jitterbug Perfume, you’ll be pleased to know that this particular kitchen tale begins with a beet (or two) and will end with a gorgeous vibrant soup for autumn, in which the devil is in the detail (or garnishes).
This comforting, thick soup has warmth from ginger, tang from orange zest and is topped with an aniseed swirl of cashew and tarragon cream and a sprinkling of toasted hazelnuts.
Beetroot is well known for it’s wonderful earthy flavour (which comes from a substance called geosmin don’tcha know) which is enhanced and sweetened in this recipe by roasting chunks of the deep red root vegetable before soup-making.
While my cashew nuts were turning into a lovely cream in my blender, I was having a little look at where beetroot gets it’s beautiful colour from (betacyanin) and discovered that in Roman times it was considered an aphrodisiac! Well, be still my beeting heart…
Roasted Beetroot + Orange Soup with Cashew-Tarragon Cream + Hazelnuts
For the soup
900g beetroot, chopped into roughly 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoon olive oil
750ml vegetable stock
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large stalk celery, finely chopped
1.5 inch piece of ginger, finely grated
3 medium oranges, zest and juice
0.5 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
For the cashew-tarragon cream
150g cashew nuts (soaked in a little water overnight unless you have a powerful blender)
Leaves from 10 sprigs of fresh tarragon
Pinches of: onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper
Toasted, chopped hazelnuts to garnish.
THE NUTS + BOLTS
- Roast the chopped beetroot at 200C or gas mark 6 in a large roasting pan with 1 tablespoon olive and and a little sea salt for about 50 minutes until the pieces are almost tender.
- As the roasting time is coming to and end heat the remaining oil in a deep, non-stick pan and cook garlic until soft and translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, celery, ginger and thyme and fry for another 5 minutes.
- When the beetroot is ready add it to the pan and pour on the stock. Pop the lid on and cook for a further 20 minutes at a low temperature to let the flavours meld.
- Whilst the pan is simmering zest and juice the oranges and set aside. Add all of the cashew-tarragon cream ingredients to your blender and blend away until you’ve got a smooth cream. Toast and chop the hazelnuts and reserve with the cream for garnish.
- After the simmering time add the orange zest, orange juice and salt and pepper to your usual taste to the pan. Then, as soon as you can, blend up the soup – I prefer to do this in a jug blender rather than with a stick blender as for this soup it gives it a silky, comforting texture.
- Before serving swirl in a generous amount of the cashew-tarragon cream and top with the toasted, chopped hazelnuts. Thick slices of white bread smothered in pesto on the side for me please…