Beating the Heat with Beets

Because Patrick is from Arkansas, I don’t get to complain about New Mexico’s heat and occasional humidity.  “Humid!”  He declares.  “You don’t know humid!”

And he’s got a point. This is the southwest, not the south. As for the heat, it doesn’t seem to bother him, despite which has been damn hot, mosquito filled, and to my mind and most everyone else I know, humid. Or at least humidish. The problem with such weather is that it messes with dinner and cooking in general. It’s easy for a gin and tonic or cold grapefruit juice with Campari and soda to stand in for a meal, but despite the juice and the lime, drinks really aren’t food. Just cool comfort and there’s nothing wrong with that.

A salad makes a good supper, though, as does a fish taco, or soup. Cold organic tomato juice with cilantro, diced avocado and lime is a good way to go. A chilled carrot and Magliette Calcio A Poco Prezzo ginger soup, a thin crouton with a swipe of goat cheese is another. I can’t imagine attempting much more when it’s near 100’ in the evening, but yesterday I did.  I made a beet soup, something I haven’t made in quite a while. I had bought beets thinking we should have more substantive vegetables on the menu, and a vision of beet soup came to mind. I recalled my grandmother’s lady friends who used to puree borsch with sour cream and drink it by the glass on hot days. As a child I thought it was raspberries and cream they were enjoying, and was pretty let down with my first sip. Now I know better.

So I turned on the fan, opened my soup book, and made the Red Beet Soup with Beets and Their Greens. I don’t know why it’s in the chapter devoted to winter vegetable soups because it’s a great summer soup.  I made the stock because you really need it here. I diced the beets, carrots, and pepper, ignored the fact I didn’t have any leeks, steamed the beet greens, and used more than a pinch of allspice and anise seed. In less maglie calcio poco prezzo than a calm hour I had a gleaming red on red soup.  Patrick came home, we sipped our drinks and didn’t discuss the heat, then I served the soup.  It was tepid, and we had it that way, with the beet greens and a good spoonful of sour cream. It was sweet, cool, chunky and just right for dinner. Well chilled, it was just right for lunch today, and I’ll be it will see us for dinner tonight as well.  Maybe pureed with some sour cream just to have a different texture and hopefully, though it’s unlikely, some good black bread.

So if you’re in the summer heat doldrums, you might give this, or some other beet soup, a try.

Red Beet Soup                   

This beet soup uses the whole vegetable—roots, stems, and leaves. You’ll do well to make the stock, which simply uses more of the Cheap Jerseys vegetables that you’re already using for the soup.  Begin it first and by the time you’re ready to add it to the vegetables, it will be ready. As for the pepper, peel it, especially if the skin is waxed.  Peeled, there won’t be any skins to roll up into little scrolls. (In a pinch, I’ve used jarred roasted peppers and they were fine.)  

The Stock

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup leeks greens and the roots, well washed

1 onion, 1 carrot, and1 celery rib, all chopped

3 bay leaves

pinch of thyme or a thyme sprig

few pinches oregano or a fresh branch of leaves

3 garlic cloves, smashed

the stems of 1 bunch red beets

a handful of lentils

1 teaspoon sea salt

 The Soup

1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter

3 small leeks or 1 large, the white parts only sliced into rounds

1 onion, finely diced

2 thin carrots, peeled and thinly sliced in rounds

1 red pepper, peeled and diced

3 medium sized beets, about 8 ounces, peeled and diced

3 small bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

hefty pinch of allspice or anise seeds

1 finely minced large clove of garlic

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 15-ounce can organic diced tomatoes, fire-roasted or not, or 1 cup fresh, peeled tomatoes, diced

the beet greens, roughly chopped

sour cream and 1 lemon, quartered or apple cider vinegar

1.  To make the stock, heat the oil in a pot, add the leek greens and root, onion, carrot, celery, garlic and herbs.  Give a stir and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables take on a little color.  Add the rest of the ingredients and 6 cups water.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently while you prepare the soup vegetables.  Be sure to turn it off after 30 minutes as it will go from red to brown about at that point.  As you peel the beets, add the peels, along with any other vegetable trimmings, such as the ends and veins of the bell pepper, to the stock.

2.  While the stock is cooking, heat the oil and butter in a wide soup pot. Add the vegetables, (minus the beet greens), bay leaves, oregano, allspice, and garlic.  Stir to coat, then cook over medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes. Season with 1-teaspoon salt and the sugar.  Strain the stock directly into the pot.  Simmer, partially covered, until the beets are tender-firm, 20 to 25 minutes.  Taste for salt and season with pepper.

3. Cook the beet greens in a little water with a pinch of salt until tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain.  Serve the soup and add a clump of greens and spoonful sour cream to each.  Serve with the lemon on the side, for those who wish.

Makes 2 quarts. 

From Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen

14 thoughts on “Beating the Heat with Beets

  1. Elissa

    Sounds delicious (of course….) 106 degrees here today, so maybe we should stop making (your) pizza dough and make the soup instead??!

  2. Simona

    I am bookmarking this as part of my collection of recipes that use both beets and their greens: it sounds really good. I wish I could send you some cool ocean breeze.

    1. Deborah

      Ciao Simona!
      Since posting this, we have had an enormous series of storms and today is cloudy and cool, so you may have
      succeeded in sending me some of that coastal air! Another beet/green combination is simply cooking beets (however you like) and serving
      them with the steamed or sauteed greens —simple, obvious no doubt, but makes so much sense and is pretty to boot. By the way, if you have it, anise hyssop
      makes a good addition to that soup or to a beet salad.

  3. Candi

    Yumm! That sounds wonderful. Anise hyssop? I love how that sounds and want to grow it just to say it! Is it licorice-like?
    We, in northern California, have been experiencing the mildest summer in my years here. We are just starting to get melons, tomatoes and corn, almost a month late.
    But we certainly have beets, gold and red.

  4. Deborah

    Lynne and Candi
    Yes, anise hyssop does have a licorice taste, but not purely that. It’s stronger. It also has pretty small purple flowers that you can use as well. California is a month behind and we’re about a month a head this year, so we’re about the same. And today it looks like Portland weather. Lynne-hope you enjoyed that perfect dinner!

  5. Christina Dudley

    Hi, Deborah.

    Congratulations on the new book! Excited to take a look at it, and wondering if you’d like to do a guest blog on UrbanFarmJunkie and let our Bellevue Farmers Market followers know about it. We could do it Q&A style.

    And as for beets, my husband just told me our first crop is ready. We are totally addicted to your Yogurt Sauce with Cumin and Dill drizzled over roasted beets. Even my 7-year-old scarfs them down. Thanks for all you do.


  6. Nicolette

    I shamefully have been composting beet greens for too long. I’m so excited you posted this recipe that uses it all! It will be fun to try something new. Thanks!

  7. Deborah W.

    Sometimes, I think that beet greens are my favorite part of the beet– sauteed in a bit of olive oil and garlic. The farmers market here in Comox, British Columbia have heaps of beautiful beets. To beat the heat (no pun intended) I pressure cook the beets, dice them and combine them with barley with a lemon and olive oil dressing. Easy and tastes fantastic. Congratulations on your new cookbook, Deborah! I can’t wait to buy a copy.

  8. Pingback: Merville Organics | CSA Box #4

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