Chilled beet soup with goat cheese

31 August 2011 § 5 Comments

Here is one of the cold soup recipes I promised last week.

Or maybe it was the week before. I forget.

Fact is, I was distracted initially by the preparations for Hurricane Irene and have been preoccupied with its appalling aftermath ever since.

We have had a house up in the Catskills for over seven years now and can’t believe the disaster that has occurred there. While people rejoiced when the coastal deluge failed to swamp New York City, our collective eyes were taken off the tragedy unfolding Upstate.

Thankfully, we have managed to track down most of our friends and neighbors Upstate and they are safe.  But, there are many people who have lost so much.

Farms have been really hit hard by the storm, losing both livestock and crops. With severe damage in the Schoharie and Mohawk valleys, the late summer and fall harvests will undoubtedly be affected. So let’s support our local farmers (remember – it is as bad in parts of New Jersey, too) and do what we can to help these good people get their livelihoods back.

Incidentally, here is an account of the storm from Shannon Hayes at Sap Hollow Farm. They are still without power and they have 100 chickens to process. That’s a lot of livelihood to lose. Amazingly, Shannon said that they only received their call to evacuate the area at 10:00am on Sunday morning. There was no warning and zero preparedness. All eyes had been on New York City and while New York City celebrated, Upstate New York was being swept away.

It is somewhat ironic that before the hurricane I had been planning a Russian-themed extravaganza based on the caviar and vodka that Tsar Marv brought back from his recent trip to Moscow. I had decided to add a borscht recipe into the mix when Irene wrought havoc on the Catskills — an area once known as the Borscht Belt.

This simple chilled soup (adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe) is easy and light and features only a few ingredients.

The full Moscow-themed dining experience will follow at a more appropriate time. For now, enjoy this reminder of when things were simple, easy and light in the Catskills.

Ingredients – enough for 4

  • 1lb beets
  • 2 tbs vegetable or olive oil
  • 4-6 spring onions – finely chopped
  • 3-4 cups of vegetable or light chicken stock

For the goat cheese cream

  • 4oz soft goat cheese
  • 3 tablespoons thick natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbs mixed chopped chives and mint

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the leaves off the beets – you can save these for another time cook as you would spinach. Scrub the beets well. Loosely wrap them in aluminum foil, add a tablespoon of oil and 2-3 tablespoons of water. Place on a baking tray and roast for 45 minutes to an hour until they are dark and almost tender.

Heat the second tablespoon of oil in a shallow pan. Add the spring onions and cook for about five minutes, letting them soften. Set aside.

Peel the beets, you can do this under cold running water if they are still hot. Chop the flesh roughly. Put then in the pan with the onions, pour on the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 7 to 8 minutes, cool slightly and puree until smooth. Taste and add salt and black pepper. Pour into a jug and chill in the fridge.

To make the cream, remove the skin from the goat cheese and mash the flesh with a fork. Stir in the yoghurt. Serve when the soup is nicely chilled, adding the herb cream at the table.

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