Howling winds and driving rain – can this really be only the first week of September? It feels more like October or November. It made me Google the first day of autumn – 23 September, so only a couple of weeks early, then. No Indian summer for us, it seems … However, there are lovely ways of cheering ourselves up and what could be better for lunch on a day like today than a large bowl of home-made Beetroot Soup, flavoured with cumin and topped off at the end with a nice spoonful of Greek yogurt and a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley (for which I braved the elements when rushing out to the garden!).
In the winter – in other words, not usually in early September – my fridge is full of home-made soups packed into individual portions ready to be brought out for a warm and comforting lunch. Today my freezer was bare so a quick trip to the supermarket was in order. With thoughts of beetroot soup in my mind I almost had a panic attack when I couldn’t find fresh beetroot. Perhaps I must learn to be more flexible, but my mind was set and there are few things that compare to the rich earthiness of a thick beetroot soup flavoured with cumin, one of my favourite spices, and that bright, jewel-like colour that can brighten any day – even a wintry one like today! Fortunately, I eventually spied a nice bunch of beetroot and lunch was on its way.
Beetroot Soup with Cumin
Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a roughly chopped medium onion into a large pan and start to very gently fry the onion while you gather the rest of the ingredients together. Next grind a heaped teaspoon of cumin seeds in a mortar and pestle and add to the onion – frying the spice brings out the deep flavour. Now roughly chop 1 large peeled potato (an ‘old’ potato that will mash; not new ones. I used Maris Piper) and 450g of fresh, peeled beetroot (this was the weight of my one bunch once I’d cut off the leaves and stalks). Add some salt and pepper and the gently fry with a lid on, stirring occasionally, for about 5 – 10 minutes; I think this adds to the depth of the flavour, especially when not using stock as I was today. I had stock in the freezer (see Real Chicken Stock Cubes) but then I wouldn’t be able to re-freeze any leftovers.
Once the vegetables are starting to soften and gently brown add enough hot water to cover, then leave to gently simmer for about 40 minutes – or until the vegetables are soft (test against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon). I used a hand blender to blend it all in the same pan. It should be nicely thick but if it’s too thick, just add a little hot water at this stage and check seasoning. Then spoon portions into a nice earthy bowl, gently spoon some Greek yogurt (or soured cream or creme fraiche) into the middle and scatter over some freshly chopped parsley. Mmmm … Heavenly. Good things come out of wintry days after all.