Beautiful, vibrant soup made with roasted vegetables. If you normally dislike earthy beetroot, you will love the sweet, mellow flavour. A Dairy-free recipe.
Beetroot are firm root vegetables that have a very distinctive, earthy flavour. However, beetroot has a high sugar content, and is one of the sweetest vegetables. This is why it is often used in baking, such as the well-known ‘red velvet’ chocolate and beetroot cake. Roasting them mellows the flavour, as this brings out their natural sweetness by gently caramelising the natural sugars. It also eases peeling, as the skins become paper thin and slide off with the merest provocation.
Beetroot is also naturally rich in iron. Anaemia is a common condition characterised by excessive tiredness and pallor. It is caused by a deficiency of iron in the blood, and is common in people who have digestive disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is because frequent bouts of diarrhoea mean that food is only partially digested, and exits before the gut has time to fully absorb the nutrients. The standard medicinal cure is a prescription of iron tablets. However, these do not work for people who have a digestive disorder. In fact, iron tablets aggravate the gut, causing even worse diarrhoea and feeding ‘bad’ gut bacteria. Luckily you can heal yourself through dietary changes, by eating iron-rich foods like beetroot and liver (it worked for me).
Tips & Tricks
- Cook the beetroot in their skins – this preserves the colour and flavour, which are stored just below the skin.
- Wrap in a foil parcel – this traps steam, and stops the beetroot from drying out and scorching.
- 6 beetroots (750g), ends trimmed and skins left on
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 butternut squash (400g), peeled and chopped into 2 cm pieces
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 3 cm pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, skin on but base end shaved off
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, leaves only
- 2 banana shallots (130g), peeled and finely chopped
- 1 litre (1 3/4 pints) of homemade chicken stock (use vegetable stock for a vegan option)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- fresh dill
- crushed walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/355°F.
- Put the beetroot on a piece of foil and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. If they are particularly large, then slice them in half to speed up the cooking time. Scrunch the foil into a parcel and place in a roasting tray. Roast for 1 hour, or until tender, checking by inserting the point of a knife.
- Arrange the squash, carrot and garlic in a single layer on a separate roasting tray, giving them plenty of room to roast and caramelise. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle over the thyme, and toss until evenly coated. When the beetroot has been in the oven for 15 minutes, transfer the tray to the oven. Roast for 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are browned and fork tender.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and fry for about 5 minutes, until translucent but not brown. Add the stock, salt, pepper and allspice, then turn off the heat.
- When the beetroot are just cool enough to handle, brush off the skins using a piece of kitchen towel, then roughly chop. Slip the garlic cloves out of their skins (pinch the pointy end between your thumb and index finger).
- Add all the roasted vegetables to the saucepan. Transfer to a blender in batches, and blitz to the smooth puree.
- Transfer the soup back to the saucepan and bring to the boil. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and serve hot, garnished with fresh dill and crushed walnuts.