Roasted Beet Soup with Cracked Cumin


What is this, a roasted vegetable soup blog? Last week I had a recipe for a soup made with roasted carrots; two weeks ago I had a recipe for a soup made with pan-roasted asparagus; this week I have a recipe for a soup made with roasted beets. If you’ve made the two other soups and fretted that they were not carroty or asparagusy enough then you will be happy to learn that this soup is quite beet-forward. It includes very few other ingredients and a relatively light touch with spices. It does, like the other two, require blending the soup.

Is this an Indian dish? You may well ponder this question after eating this soup or even just after reading the recipe. Well, it’s not a traditional preparation. There aren’t a whole lot of soups per se in the broader Indian repertoire (caveat: it’s a large country) and this does not follow any sort of traditional recipe. But to me it tastes very Indian. I could see making a dish of sauteed beets with much the same ingredients, save the stock. I’d say it’s an Indian dish insofar as it deploys an Indian flavour palette and an Indian technique: adding a tadka of cumin seeds and curry leaves at the end just as you would do with most dals. If you like beets, give it a shot.

Ingredients

  • Red beets, 2 lbs
  • Leeks, 1//2 lb, white and light green portions cut into rings
  • Ginger, 1/2 tspn, grated
  • Ground coriander seed, 1 tspn
  • Stock of choice (I use chicken), 6 cups
  • Lemon juice, 1-2 tblspns
  • Cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves, 1 sprig
  • Ghee, 1 tspn
  • Salt
  • Pepper, a few grindings
  • Oil of choice (coconut oil is optimal, mustard oil is a bad choice)

Preparation

  1. Wrap the beets in foil and bung in a 450f oven for an hour. When cool, peel and dice.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat and saute the leeks till beginning to brown.
  3. Add the ginger and saute for another minute or so.
  4. Add the freshly ground coriander seed and saute for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the peeled and diced roasted beets and salt and saute for another 5 minutes or so.
  6. Add the stock, bring to a high simmer, cover and cook for another 20 minutes.
  7. Cool the soup and in two batches puree it to a smooth, satiny texture in a blender.
  8. Return the pureed soup to the pot and bring back to a high simmer.
  9. Taste and add lemon juice till you have the sweet-acid balance where you’d like it.
  10. Add the pepper and taste and adjust for salt.
  11. While the soup is simmering, heat the ghee in a small pan and add the cumin seeds. Saute over medium heat till the seeds begin to split. Then add the curry leaves, stir a few times and then dump the contents of the pan into the soup.
  12. Stir and let infuse for 15 minutes or so before you serve.

Notes

  1. This is very good as a warm soup but it’s also quite good as a chilled soup.
  2. I don’t toast the coriander seed first because I like the lemony tang of the unroasted seeds in this soup. You could toast them first if you like (but cool them before grinding them).
  3. As a variation you could add 1/2 a cup of coconut milk for a richer texture.
  4. Alternatively you could also stir in a few tblspns of yogurt at the end; but pass on the lemon juice if you do this.
  5. If you want to add more heat you could add 2-3 dried chillies to the tadka.
  6. I’ve not actually tried any of these variations above so if you do try them and they suck thanks for doing the research! If they don’t please salute my genius.
  7. This will probably be my last recipe for a while. I”m not going to be cooking while in India next month.

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