Darina Allen's Chilled Ruby Beetroot Soup
Hopefully your decision to make this soup will coincide with a warm day, as scorching shaded lunches or long balmy evenings are the perfect weather conditions for enjoying this soup, though I can enjoy it almost as much in less clement weather conditions.
If you come across golden beetroots, they can be used in exactly the same way as the ruby variety, though they must be cooked separately as the ruby beetroot will bleed into the golden and render them pink, which would really defeat the purpose of using them in the first place. I sometimes make a little of both colours and serve them swirled together though you may think that’s too horribly psychadelic. Lots of finely chopped chives and their pretty pink flowers help to make a pretty and delicious presentation. Save the leaves of the beets for wilting, or if small and delicate for adding to your salad bowl.
800g (1 3/4lb) whole beetroot
225g (8oz) chopped onions
50g (2oz) butter
salt, pepper and sugar
approximately 1.2 litres (2 pints) of light chicken stock
150ml (5fl oz) pouring cream
300ml (10fl oz) natural, unsweetened yoghurt
4 tablespoons of chopped chives and chive flowers if available
Wash the beets under a cold running tap with your hands being careful not to break the skin. Leave the little tail on and about 5cm (2 inches) of the stalks intact so as not to allow the beets to bleed.
Place in a saucepan that they fit snugly into and cover with boiling water. Add a pinch of salt and sugar. Cover, bring to the boil and simmer until the beets are cooked. The cooking time depends on the size and they can take anything from 20 minutes for tiny little beets to 2 hours for larger ones. They are cooked when the skin rubs off really easily. Don’t use a knife to test if they are cooked, as this will also cause bleeding.
While the beets are cooking, melt the butter and allow to foam. Add the onions, coat in the butter, cover tightly and sweat very gently until soft, tender and uncolored. When the beets are cooked, peel, chop coarsely and add to the onions.
Add just enough boiling chicken stock to cover and season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for just 1 minute.
Now purée to achieve a smooth and silky consistency. Allow to cool completely. Add yoghurt and a little cream to taste. Check seasoning adding a little sugar if necessary.
Serve chilled with a swirl of yoghurt and lots of chopped chives and a few chive flowers if available.
Copyright Ballymaloe Cookery School