BEETROOT AND TOMATO SOUP WITH GIN
Best of Modern British Cookery
by Sarah Freeman
The inspiration for this recipe came from the combination of seeing a delivery of fresh beetroot, with its deep green leaves, being carried into my local organic shop and the fact that it was the kind of unrelentingly wet day which makes a thick, warming soup seem particularly attractive.
The soup is smooth and rich-tasting: one of its heartening properties is its colour, which, as the ingredients suggest, is a dark, dramatic red. Gin is optional but accentuates the taste of the beetroot, while removing any hint of mawkishness. Although fresh chicken stock is preferable, the positive flavour of the other ingredients means that stock cubes are perfectly satisfactory: the stock is needed only to give depth to the taste.
As the flavour of the soup is improved by keeping, it can advantageously be made a day in advance. Serve hot with a generous spoonful of yoghurt. Preparation is fairly quick but the beetroot (which must be raw) may take a good hour to cook.
• 450 g (1 Ib) ripe tomatoes
• 450 g (1 Ib) raw beetroot
• 75 g (3 oz) 1 medium carrot
• 175 g (6 oz) (1 largish or 1½ medium) onions
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2-cm (3/4-inch) piece cinnamon stick
• 5 cloves
• 6 black peppercorns
• 900 ml (1½ pints) chicken stock
• 1½ tablespoonsful oil
• 3/4 teaspoonful uncrushed salt
• 1 fairly flat dessertspoonful soft brown sugar
• 1½ tablespoonsful tomato puree
• 1 tablespoonful red wine vinegar
• 3 tablespoonsful gin (optional)
• 150 g (5 oz) natural, thick whole-milk yoghurt
Skin and chop the tomatoes.
Peel and chop the beetroot into (about) 1.5-cm (1/2-inch) squares; peel and slice the carrot.
Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic.
Bruise the cinnamon and crush the cloves and peppercorns in a mortar.
Dissolve stock cubes if necessary according to the instructions on the packet.
Warm the oil in a large wok or saucepan with a lid and fry the onion over low heat, turning often, for 7-10 minutes or until soft but not brown.
Add the garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes.
Add the prepared spices and turn to coat in the oil.
Add the tomatoes, season with the salt, and simmer tor 7-10 minutes, pressing the flesh against the bottom of the pan until dissolved.
Stir in the sugar, tomato puree, and vinegar; add the stock, carrot, and beetroot, and simmer for an hour or until the beetroot is tender.
Blend until very smooth and stir in the gin.
If you are making the soup in advance, cool it within two hours, setting the bowl or pan in cold water if necessary, and store (covered) in the refrigerator.
When it is needed, set it over low heat and bring it to just above simmering point, stirring gently from time to time. Simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes.
Serve before adding the yoghurt.