What to do with all these beets?
They say necessity is the mother of invention, and that was certainly the case when I came up with this recipe. Having had a few technical snafus with videotaping this spicy beet-green crostini recipe, I ended up with over two dozen big, beautiful beet roots. And although there are loads of delicious recipes on this site with beets, there’s always room for one more!
Beets and oranges…
…a classic combination, and one that’s very appealing to me, so I started there. And a delicate soup was what came to my mind.
Here baked beets are sautéed with a drizzle of honey, to bring out their natural sweetness, before they’re simmered and turned into a soup. Just before serving, a splash of fresh orange juice is added to brighten the flavors. The soup is served with a dollop of orange-infused crème fraîche and crispy fried beet chips… Yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds!
Food & wine pairing: Dry, fruity rosé with beet soup
A dry, fruity rosé is the perfect companion to this gorgeous soup. The first time I served it, I poured a rosé from one of my favorite Greek wineries: Kir-Yianni’s Akakies, made with Xinomavro grapes. The wine is deeply colored, deliciously lush-yet-dry and intensely aromatic. The pairing was absolutely superb! As an alternative, pour a rosé from Northern Italy made with either Nebbiolo or Lagrein grapes.
Beet soup with orange crème fraîche and beet chips
active time: 45 min
For the orange crème fraîche
For the beet chips
- 2 small red beets (raw)
- canola, peanut or safflower oil for pan-frying
- sea salt to taste
For the soup
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 lbs (905 g) baked beets – cooled, peeled and cut in 1″ pieces
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 4 large shallots – skinned, halved and thinly sliced (1 1/2 cups)
- 2 large garlic cloves – skinned and finely chopped
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups spring water
- 1 3/4 teaspoons sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives as garnish
- Step 1: Place the crème fraîche in a small bowl. Add the orange zest and stir until just incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to use, for up to 3 days.
- Step 2: To make the beet chips, peel the beets and – using a mandoline – slice them crosswise in 1/16″-thick slices. Heat a frying pan over high heat. Add enough oil to reach 1/4″ up the sides of the pan. Place one beet slice in the pan and let it cook until crisp. When the first beet slice is done, you know the oil is hot enough. Alternatively, use an electric thermometer and heat the oil until it reaches 350°F (180°C). Drop about a dozen beet slices in the hot oil, placing them one by one so they don’t overlap, and fry them until they shrivel and look crisp. Immediately scoop them out of the hot oil with a slotted spoon and place on a tray lined with paper towels. You’ll need to work very quickly, because they burn within a few seconds. The chips should not turn brown. You might need to turn down the heat after the first batch so the oil doesn’t get too hot. Repeat until all the beet slices are fried. Sprinkle the beet chips with the salt and set aside.
- Cook’s note: The beet chips can be made up to 4 hours ahead and kept uncovered at room temperature until ready to use.
- Step 3: For the soup – Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, beets and honey. Stir well and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the shallots and continue to sauté for 2 minutes until the shallots have softened. Add the garlic and sauté for only another minute, so the garlic releases its flavor. (Don’t let it brown!) Add the stock, 2 1/2 cups of spring water, and the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium/medium-low, cover the pot and slow-simmer for 25 minutes until the beets are very tender. Add the orange juice and purée the soup with a stick blender or food processor until very smooth. Thin with the balance of the spring water to the desired consistency. Taste, season with salt and pepper if needed, and remove from heat. Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with a dollop of crème fraîche and a few beet chips and sprinkle with the chives. Serve at once, or the beet chips will become soggy.
- Cook’s note: The soup can be cooled and refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 1 month.
- The beet chips make a most delectable (and beautiful!) garnish for this soup. But they are a bit time consuming to make. So for a simpler presentation, omit the beet chips and sprinkle the soup with coarsely crushed cashews, Marcona almonds or macadamia nuts. (Use a mortar and pestle.) The bits of nuts add a wonderful crunch to every spoonful!