I fancied making some borscht a few days ago, a big pot of it to see me through the week. I love borscht, it’s one of my favourite soups, even if it takes some time to prepare as I prefer to grate the beetroot by hand. Of course, grating it manually also means I end up with a red-splattered kitchen and the kind of gruesomely-stained fingers that suggest I’ve just committed some heinous crime. (‘I was only making soup, guv, honest!’)
We’ve got loads of beetroot in the kitchen which Ade grew on the allotment, and I was all set to make my borscht when, horror of horrors, I realised we were out of tinned tomatoes. We’re never out of tinned tomatoes. I don’t know what Ade was cooking up while I was away in Australia, but he completely annihilated our tinned tomato stash which is a mystery to me, as during the time I was away, the fresh tomato harvest from the plot was in full swing.
Anyway, with no tinned tomatoes in the house and a hunger for beetroot in some kind of soupified form, I set about creating my own beetroot soup with the ingredients I had to hand. My recipe takes less time than it takes to make borscht and it’s just as comforting and earthy, with a welcome, warming hint of ginger.
And you don’t have to grate the beetroot so there’s no worry of the neighbours mistaking you for a serial killer. (At least, not on this occasion.)
BEETROOT AND GINGER SOUP
Prep & Cooking: 1 hr 20 (max) Serves: 2 (as a main) 4 (as a starter)
750 g small beetroot
700 ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
A few sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper
Creme fraiche or yoghurt
Chopped chives or spring onions
Pre-heat the oven to 200C (180C fan oven).
Wash the beets well. Top and tail them but leave the skins on. Halve them if necessary to keep them a uniform size.
Place the beets in a roasting tray and toss in half of the oil, salt, pepper and thyme leaves before roasting for 45-60 minutes until soft (depending on the size).
Remove from the oven. While the beets are cooling, heat the remaining oil in a pan and gently fry the onion, garlic and ginger for ten minutes.
Once the beets are cool enough to handle, the skins should rub off easily. Add the peeled beets (and all the juices and seasoning from the oven tray) to the onions, garlic and ginger in the pan, before adding the vegetable stock and the bay leaf. Simmer for ten minutes.
Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf and blitz in a food processor. Return the soup to the pan and season.
Serve with a dollop of creme-fraiche or yoghurt and a sprinkling of chopped chives or spring onions.
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