Beetroot is a not everyone’s cup of tea, either you love it or you hate it. I love them raw, juiced, pickled, cooked, baked or in form of crisps . Freshly available from July until October, they are a rich source of folic acid , potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin A, B6, C and fiber.
Despite their high sugar content they are still relatively low in calories, 100g of raw beetroot contain just 27 calories. Their calorific count goes up to 44 calories when cooked. Beetroot has got high levels of the powerful antioxidant betacyanin, which stimulates the detoxification process in the liver and the fiber content it is especially beneficial for the colon.
The green leaves can also be eaten, they are quite bitter but they are rich in vitamin A and C as well as iron and calcium. To make most of all the goodness in beetroot it is best to juice it or eat them raw. They goes very well with salads, grated or thinly sliced . Non the less I still love to make beetroot soup, stews or even beetroot brownies. I think it’s great to try lots of different variations of foods, as it makes eating it more interesting and fun. It also tends to inspire me to try similar recipes with different vegetables, variety is the way forward!
Where possible I try to buy beetroot with their leaves looking fresh and green , the root should be firm and of a vibrant color, if visible as they are often covered in mud, which is absolutely fine. Beetroot keep in the fridge for up to 3 days when still carrying the leaves , removing the leaves will extend their storage time to up to 2-3 weeks as the leaves would draw moisture out of the root.That’s why you most probably won’t find beetroot with their leaves on in supermarkets, but more so on farmers markets . If you are lucky enough to find some super fresh beetroot including leaves, cut them leaving about 1 or 2 inches to stop them from coloring your fridge. Wash and add the leaves to a salad, they will keep in the fridge for a day or two.
I tend to peel the beetroot before cooking and use lemon juice to remove any stains . To keep the vibrant color of the beetroot just add some lemon juice or vinegar to the cooking water, bicarbonate soda will result it a darker color and salt will have a dulling effect on the color, so its best to add salt at the end of cooking. Here the recipe to one of my favorites:
Beetroot Soup – serves 3-4
400g beetroot, peeled (organic if possible)
200g organic carrots, washed and sliced
1-2 tbsp coconut oil
1 small onion ( cut into small dice or rings), 3-4 small carrot (peeled and cut into slices)
1/2-1 cm of ginger ( peeled and crushed in garlic press)
1 small bay leaf , 1-2 cardamom seeds ( crushed) , 1 star anise (optional)
1-1.5l of stock ( chicken, beef or vegetable)
2-3 tbsp of turmeric, 1-2 tsp of cumin seeds , 1 whole dried chili (or 1tsp of chili powder) , 1-2 long pepper (snapped in half), as an alternative to long pepper use normal pepper corns ( 2-4)
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
Ground black pepper & Himalayan salt to taste
Heat the oil in a soup pot, add onions , ginger, turmeric, cumin seeds and cardamom and saute for about a minute or 2 ( the oil gets really hot, so it’s best to take the pot off the hob for a couple of minutes, as to not burn the spices), then add carrots and beetroot, keep stirring for another minute, before adding the stock. Once the beetroot and carrot are well covered with stock , add the bay leave, the long pepper, star anise (optional), the whole dried chili (pierced) & crushed garlic.
Cook for about 25-30 minutes . You can check the cooking process sticking a knife into the beetroot and carrot, once cooked take off the hob and leave to cool down a bit.
Before blending take out the chili , star anise, bay leaf and half the pepper, as the soup will get mega spicy otherwise. You can always add more pepper and some of the chili during the blending process, keep checking for taste. I usually return bay leaf , chilli and star anise back into the blended soup, so they can keep doing their job adding flavor.
Tips for blending, if you have a glass jar blender, it ll be very easy just to blend the ingredients in that . I have a hand held blender, so I tend to cover the pot holding the lid in one hand and the blender in the other, that way you prevent beetroot splashing accidents. If the soup is quite thick, just add more stock.
Once blended, add salt and pepper for taste. The soup gets better over time, I usually like it most on day three, if there is still any left !!
To garnish add home made kale crisps and seed mix . For the seed mix : 2tbs of pumpkin seeds, 2 tbs of sunflower seeds, 4tbsp of ground flax seeds and just a dash of cinnamon – mix well. Best to use a small jar, easy to shake & mix well, plus you can keep the mix in the jar and store in the fridge to keep the oils in the flax seed fresh. If there is any left.
Other garnish ideas include goats yogurt or cheese , just a tbsp of goats yogurt or some crumbled goats cheese , topped with some seed mix. You can add rainbow trout with a little bit of horse radish on top or roast vegetables work very well too. The different garnishes make the soup a great dish for dinner parties as you can serve the soup and have the different garnishes on the table for people to help themselves to what they want as a topping- patch work soup as a starter or main course.