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Beeting the Winter Blues

Posted Feb 04 2013 10:10am

Beet Soup with Hazelnuts & Mascarpone

One of the easiest way to make soup is the blender method: place all your ingredients in a blender, press “on,” and let the ingredients puree themselves into creamy soupiness. It’s a common technique for chilled soups, but if you like, you can pour the soup into a pot and heat it through if you’d prefer a hot soup on a chilly winter evening. Likewise, you can customize the base of the soup to suit your preference: chicken broth is the golden standard for savoriness, or perhaps you’d like to go for dairy-created creaminess (cream and whole-milk Greek yogurt are wonderful in soups) or plant-created creaminess (not only is it lushly delicious, coconut milk doesn’t curdle with heat; neither do nut/seed butters, either homemade or store-bought).

For this soup, I used a blend of golden and red beets, then blended them with water, avocado, and Greek yogurt for a smooth, creamy consistency. I opted not to warm the soup through, but that would have been easy enough to do. If you’re an adherent to the soup-is-always-hot school of thought (nothing wrong with that!), the most foolproof way to heat your soup is to hold off on stirring in the dairy-based creamy element until you’re right about to remove the soup from the heat. That way you won’t cause any curdling. If you’re skipping the dairy and sticking to creamy/smooth plants like avocado, nut butter, or coconut milk, you can heat the whole shebang without any worries.

Beet Soup with Hazelnuts & Mascarpone
Makes 4 hearty lunch servings. Feel free to double or cut in half as needed.

4 medium beets (any variety; I used 2 golden and 2 red), peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
1 avocado
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
Handful of cilantro leaves
About 2 cups water OR chicken broth OR vegetable broth
1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt OR whole coconut milk
Toasted hazelnuts for garnishing (optional)
Dollop of mascarpone or additional whole-milk Greek yogurt for garnishing (optional)

Fill a medium pot of water halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add beets, cover, and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes or until you can easily pierce the beets with a fork. While the beets are simmering, you can prepare the hazelnuts if you’re going to use them: chop them and place them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Let cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the nuts are turning golden-brown and are fragrant. This takes no more than 5 minutes, so don’t walk away! (Never walk away from toasting nuts — they can go from perfectly toasted to burnt slag in seconds.) As soon as the hazelnuts are toasted, transfer them to a cool plate.

Drain beets. Add to a blender that holds at least 32 ounces. If you have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, now’s the time to use it! Add flesh of avocado, the lime juice, the spices, and the cilantro. Pour enough water or broth over the beets to cover them. Blend on high until the soup is well-blended, stopping to scrape down the sides and add more liquid if necessary. If you’re going to heat your soup, transfer it to a pot and heat on medium heat until warmed through. Stir in yogurt and remove from heat. If you’re not going to heat the soup or you’re using coconut milk, blend the yogurt/coconut milk directly into the soup.

Garnish with toasted hazelnuts and mascarpone/yogurt just before serving. Leftover soup can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.


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