Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pureed Beet Soup

I celebrated the way most Americans do this past weekend - by stuffing myself to the gills. Vegetables were certainly part of the feasting, but a far higher percentage of my diet was dedicated to meat and starches than usual, so a veggie-packed week is definitely in order the balance things back out. Beets are the last vegetable remaining in any great quantity in my fridge before my next CSA delivery on Wednesday, and a hearty beet soup is the perfect remedy to both of those problems.

Beets are a somewhat polarizing vegetable, and one I only came to appreciate in adulthood. While there can certainly be a soil-like nuance, when cooked properly they are a wonderful balance of earthy and sweet. This soup is beautifully simple, the classic pureed soup formula exploiting both of those elements, with the oft-forgotten final addition of acid that is so important to letting all the flavors bloom. Vegans or those really looking to cut back can omit the sour cream, but that final touch is what really enriches this soup and makes it hearty enough for a light winter meal.

Pureed Beet Soup
adapted from Martha Stewart
serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or red wine vinegar
Sour cream, for serving (optional)

1. In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion. Season with salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Add beets, broth, and enough water (4 to 5 cups) to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, and simmer until beets are tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Using a blender or an immersion blender, puree broth and vegetables until smooth. If using a blender, work in batches and fill only halfway, allowing heat to escape: Remove cap from hole in lid, cover lid firmly with a dish towel, and blend. Transfer to a clean pot as you work. Adjust soup's consistency with a little water if necessary. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Stir in sour cream, if desired, and serve.

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