Friday, November 18, 2011

Roasted Beet Vishyssoise

On top of being drizzly and gloomy, the weather has suddenly turned frigidly cold with a chance of snow. High time to cook up a creamy pot of soup. And one with a brilliant magenta hue wouldn't hurt. Here's a take on a family favorite of leek and potato soup (Vishyssoise) that incorporates roasted beets for a rich flavor and glamorous color.

When preparing this soup, I realized that all the extra parts of the vegetables that would normally be discarded (leaves, stems, and peels) could be recruited into service for a flavorful stock. 

And to make this into a real root to sprout recipe, I combined a handful of the tenderest beet greens with ginger and parsley for a pungent pesto garnish.

The final soup was elegant and soothing. It would make a nice accompaniment to blini or turkey panini.

Roasted Beet Vishyssoise
1 bunch beets, with greens (about 5 small or 3 medium sized)
4 small or 2 medium leeks
1 large onion
2 1/2 pounds potatoes such as Yukon gold (about 4 large potatoes)
olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 inch ginger

handful of flat leaf parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop off the beet stems and leaves and reserve. Wash the beets well. Peel them, reserving the skin for the stock, and cut them into approximately 1 inch cubes. In a ovenproof pan, toss the beet pieces in olive oil to coat and salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are soft and fragrant and just slightly charred around the edges.

2. Prepare the soup stock. Remove the green parts of the leeks, slice lengthwise, and wash thoroughly under running water. Chop coarsely. Peel and chop the onion. Rinse the beet greens thoroughly and discard any bruised or wilted leaves. Reserve a small handful of the tenderest and freshest leaves, with a couple of inches of stem, for the soup garnish, and chop the remaining stems and leaves for the broth. Scrub the potatoes well and peel them, reserving the peels, and covering the potatoes in cold water to prevent discoloring. Wash the ginger, peel it, and reserve the peels for the stock and the flesh for the pesto. Heat a large stockpot and add a glug of olive oil (approximately 2 tablespoons). Saute the onions and leek tops for a few minutes until they are glassy. Add the chopped beet stems and continue cooking until the vegetables are very soft, about 8 minutes, but make sure that they do not start to brown. Add 8 cups of water, the beet leaves and potato, beet and ginger peels, and parsley stems, and salt generously. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Strain and reserve.

3. Prepare the soup. Wash and chop the reserved leek whites. Heat a large soup pot and melt the butter. Add a small glug of olive oil (approximately 1 tablespoon) and the leeks with a pinch of salt and cook over medium low heat for about 8 minutes until the leeks are very soft. Add 6 cups of the strained vegetable stock. Cube the potatoes into approximately 1 1/2 inch chunks and add to the pot. Simmer on low for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Add the roasted beet cubes to the soup. Rinse the beet roasting pan with a ladle of vegetable stock and add this to the soup. Simmer on low for another 10 minutes. Then puree the soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth. Adjust seasoning and thin with a little more vegetable broth if necessary.

4. In the last few minutes before the soup is done, prepare the garnish. Put the peeled ginger in a food processor or mini chopper along with the reserved beet leaves and parsley leaves. Add a pinch of salt, a generous grinding of pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil (about 1 tablespoon). Chop into a coarse pesto.

5. Serve the soup warm with a dollop of the peppery beet leaf and ginger pesto.


Anonymous said...


Elly said...

This is so beautiful and vibrant! What a great beet idea!