Sunday, 1 February 2009

Five Spice Beet Soup

"Nobody ever says, "Can I have your beets?" — Bill Cosby

Well that is a crying shame because beets are really quite tasty. We just have to get over the trauma of tinned beets and the fear of peeling fresh ones.
In my second installment of working my way through a giant bag of beets, I have made Five Spice Beet Soup for Souper Sunday, a celebration of soup with Deb from Kahakai Kitchen. Since I have been making soup every week with Deb for the past 15 weeks, I have really started to branch out and away from my regular fare and experiment with different flavours and textures. This is the first beet soup that I have made and it is quite tasty, as well as being delightfully colourful.

Five Spice Beet Soup, Bon Appetit, February 2009

4 2- to 2 1/2-inch-diameter beets, scrubbed, trimmed, unpeeled, each cut into 6 wedges (about 3 1/2 cups)
3 cups vegetable broth, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-size red onion, thinly sliced (2 cups)
1 celery stalk with leaves, stalk chopped, leaves sliced
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon (or more) Chinese five-spice powder
Sour cream or plain yogurt

Place beet wedges in 4-cup glass measuring cup. Add 2 cups broth; cover with paper plate and microwave on high until tender, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and chopped celery stalk; cover and cook until almost tender and translucent, stirring often, about 12 minutes.
Add beet mixture and 1 cup broth to onion mixture; cover and simmer 4 minutes. Mix in ginger and 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder. Transfer to blender; cover and puree. Season soup to taste with salt, pepper, and additional five-spice powder, if desired; rewarm if necessary. Ladle soup into 4 bowls. Top with dollops of sour cream and sliced celery leaves.

I had difficulty with the first step, which may have had more to do with my pitiful microwave than anything. I think next time I would peel them, cut them smaller and simmer them stove top.
There is no mention of salt and pepper in this dish. I added it to my taste and, of course, used lots of the listed seasonings as well.
I used an immersion blender as I am too lazy to put soup in my blender. If you do use your blender, do it in small batches - hot food jumps and splashes.
I didn't have any yogurt or sour cream - I think that would have been really nice in it.
I garnished with some cilantro.
I think that roasting them would be even better, that's my favourite way of preparing beets and something to think about next time.
Here is Alton roasting beets, perhaps he can help me convince a certain friend of mine that they really are "good eats"!