Beets are available in abundance now, and this soup perfectly showcases their earthy richness and gentle sweetness. Serving a soup cold can be a challenge, since the low temperature can blunt flavors. My version pulls flavor cues from summer salads; all of the ingredients with exception of the beets and eggs are uncooked. This plus the floral bouquet of Ana N.36 brings everything nicely together.
Makes 4 servings
3 large beets, boiled until soft, peeled, and coarsley shredded
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bunch radishes, coarsely grated
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 bunch dill, finely chopped (reserve some top fronds for garnish)
1 fuji apple, peeled cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 quart buttermilk, or kefir, or 50:50 yogurt:water with a bit of lemon juice
1 cup of water
1 1/2 teaspoons Ana N.36
1 cup of ice
4 tender-hard boiled eggs
• Bring the water to a boil, add the Ana N.36, steep for ten minutes, strain, add ice, and chill.
• Mix the shredded beets with cucumber, radishes, scallion, dill, apple, and buttermilk.
• Allow to sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to meld. Immediately before serving, add the Ana infused ice water. Salt to taste, shooting for a level that brings out the natural sweetness of the beets.
• Serve with sour cream, a quartered or chopped egg, fresh black pepper, and dill fronds.
Great with buttered sourdough toast and a glass of Bandol rosé. Etna bianco, schiava, and reds from Jura are also great choices.
Tip: this is a fantastic accompaniment to a deli meal, pickled herring, whitefish salad, lox bagels, basically any of the fishy favorites.
Fun to Try
• Keep the classic beets, but play with the other ingredients in the soup, fun combinations to explore: golden beets, watermelon, mint, jicama, and fresh tarragon with Isphahan N1; chioggia beets, asian pear, celeriac, cilantro, and chive with Shabazi N38.
• Omit the buttermilk, water, and ice, chop the beets into small cubes instead of shredding, add 2 tbsp of lemon juice and 2 tbsp of olive oil and toss to coat for a fresh summer salad. Great with feta and/or spiced croutons.
• From my brother Patrick: try a variant on Japanese nanban-zuke. Prepare all of the vegetables minus the dill, add 1/3 cup of rice wine vinegar, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp mirin, and 2 tsp Lula spice. Cut 1 pound of fish (salmon, grouper, and mackerel are all good), into 1 inch pieces, dust with flour, and deep fry until cooked through. Remove pieces to a glass container and add the vegetable and vinegar mix. Chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight. Great with rice.
Food image and recipe © Christian Leue
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