I first ate chilled beet soup more than two decades ago at a restaurant in Manhattan. But I can still remember two things: first, it was hotter then hell outside. Second, I remember the sheer joy and surprise I felt when the server set that bowl of bright-pink soup down in front of me! Everyone at the table ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed,’ it was just that pretty.
So wandering around my neighborhood farmer’s last weekend on yet another hot, humid day, it’s no wonder that steamy night in New York City—and that fabulous chilled beet soup—popped into my head. (Just the moment of distraction Maisy-the-dog needed to chomp down on a bouquet of sunflowers!)
Why do I love this chilled beet soup? It’s full of vitamins and minerals, it cools things down when the weather’s warm, and it's so pretty it’s just plain fun to eat. The veggie-only version satisfies as is, or—for an even brighter pop of hot-pink color and a touch of creaminess—add a bit of yogurt or almond ricotta. Either way, it’s delicious.
This recipe is exactly what lazy, hot-summer-days cooking should be: full of beautiful, fresh produce, not too many ingredients and simple to make. It just needs a little time to chill—but hey, don’t we all? In fact, I’m so lazy, I don’t even bother peeling the beets. The skins are full of fiber and everything gets blended smooth, so I say, why not eat the whole beet?!
Seriously, though, you really can eat the whole beet! The two bunches in this recipe give you enough greens to whip up a quick dinner. I sauteed them with some leftover red onion and roasted squash, threw in a can of black-eyed peas and served it over quinoa—a perfectly simple and healthy weeknight meal!
Chilled Beet Soup
- 2 large shallots, diced (or ¼ white onion)
- 4 ribs of celery, diced
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- 2 pounds beets, scrubbed but unpeeled, ½-inch diced (about 2 bunches)
- 1 ½ tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 4 cups low sodium no-chicken base or vegetable stock
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ cup almond ricotta or plain, unsweetened non-dairy yogurt or (dollop on top, or blend into soup for creaminess and bright pink color)
- Fresh mint or chives for garnish
- Heat a tablespoon of water in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the diced shallots and celery with a pinch of salt and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add water a little at a time if things begin to stick.
- Add the beets, syrup, vinegar, broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer, covered, 30 minutes, or until the beets are tender.
- Allow to cool a few minutes, then transfer the soup to a high speed blender and process until very smooth, about 1 minute. The soup will be delicious as is after you chill it--but for a creamier texture and a lovely pop of hot-pink color, add ½ cup of yogurt or almond ricotta and blend another few seconds.
- Transfer to an airtight container, and chill in the refrigerator at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Garnish with fresh mint or chives, if desired.