Beets – the Least Loved Vegetable
Beet soup with Cream Clouds

Beets – the Least Loved Vegetable

raw beets
Beets with greens

I can’t count the number of times I’ve presented a menu to a cooking class with a beet recipe in it, and gotten looks like I was proposing a final walk to the gallows.  I proceed with a lightness of being, however, because I know what will ensue, which involves almost heavenly transformation.

That’s because beets aren’t the mushy, overcooked demon most people think they are.  Instead, what cooks discover is a whole, new, gorgeously-hued world of flavor.  Add to that the considerable health benefits of the beet, and you’ve got delicately delicious flavor, and a nutritional powerhouse on your plate (or in your bowl).

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seasoning the soup
Culinary artists seasoning the soup before serving – photo Cathy Arkle

I recently gave classes in California, where students merrily cooked their way through menus, one of which included beet soup.  I saw the usual grimaces when I outlined the menu, and I proceeded with my typical confidence.  It’s not that I care about being correct (I’m used to it, lol), it’s that I’m sure of my ammunition, among which is the following recipe.  It helps me along my track of  broadening people’s culinary horizon to include all sorts of humble yet exquisite ingredients.  Simple, beautiful, healthful, classy, imaginative…this soup takes beets to a whole new, French level.  And I predict it will  become a regular part of your winter repertoire, as will the vegetable broth used as its base.  So, go out there,  find some raw beets, and get going!

P.S.  Note that I specify “raw beets”.  That’s probably because I live in France where most beets are sold pre-cooked.   Why, I’m often asked? The practice dates back to the Second World War.  Then, fuel was scarce.  Farmers had a healthier allotment than others, and as a service to their customers they began to cook beets on the farm, over big vats of salted water so they emerged completely tender, and lightly seasoned to boot.  When I first moved to France, a raw beet was nearly impossible to find; today the practice of pre-cooking beets persists, but raw beets are common too, sitting proudly on the market stand next to their floppy, pre-cooked brethren.  I, however, like to cook my own beets, particularly for this recipe where roasting concentrates their flavor.

Note that this makes a wonderful addition to the Christmas table, with its seasonal burst of color.  Bon Appétit!

Beet soup with Cream Clouds – photo Cathy Arkle

 

 

 

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Rozlyn Levine

    I love beets in any way! This soup sounds delicious and will try it soon. My least favorite vegetable is parsnip!

    1. Susan

      Rozlyn, Well, I’ll have to see how I can charm you into loving parsnips!

  2. Rob

    Beetroot is one of my favourite vegetables! As a young child, I remember my grandmother making a beetroot mould – slices set in a jelly – as a special treat. The colour is so cheering, although it stains the hands badly when peeling the cooked beets : ) Unfortunately, I have been unable to eat them for several decades now (due to the iron content) – but I sure miss them…

    1. Susan

      Rob – they’re so good and the stains go away almost immediately!!

  3. Robin Anne Ellis

    One of the most delicious soups ever!

    1. Susan

      Robin – have you made it yet?! It’s so festive, too.

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