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Spicy beetroot soup

There’s definitely a nip in the air this morning. A little frost in the shadows and by the road was a big old toadstool with a puddle of water on its upturned cap that was still frozen. Steamy breath and a hazy sun on the rooftops of Ludlow. I love chillies at any time of year, but when it’s cold outside the extra heat is very welcome in almost any dish. Maureen disagrees of course: chillies are vital in every dish at all times of year, and twice on Thursdays.

This month’s Sweet Heat Challenge is soup, which is handy because I had all the ingredients needed for a spicy beetroot soup. This stuff is packed with warmth: the warm glow of chilli, the earthy warmth of beetroot, the warm red of roasted pepper, the warm notes of toasted cumin, the cosy warmth of slowly cooked tomatoes, the smokey warmth of paprika. It’s like a woolly blanket in a bowl. Which would be horrible. Ugh, bad analogy. Ignore that.

Spicy beetroot soup
This makes enough for 4-6 bowls

2 large beetroots
2 red peppers
1 small onion, chopped roughly
1 stick celery, chopped roughly
2 cloves of garlic, chopped roughly
2 chipotle chillies (smoked dried jalapenos)
½ tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp cumin and coriander seeds mixed
1 tin chopped tomatoes
½ pint vegetable stock
  1. Simmer the beetroots (skin-on) in a pan of boiling water for 30-40 minutes until cooked through – test with a knife.
  2. Meanwhile, halve the peppers and rub with a little olive oil then roast on an oven tray at 160C for 30 minutes or until skin is brown/black in a few places.
  3. Dry-fry the cumin and coriander until toasty and smoking, then grind to a powder.
  4. Begin to gently fry the onion, celery and garlic in a large saucepan just before the peppers and beetroot are finished. Don’t colour them at all.
  5. Pop the peppers in a plastic bag and tie it – the steam will loosen the skins, which you can then peel off and roughly chop the pepper.
  6. Drain the beetroots and reserve a pint of the water. Once the beetroot has cooled a little, simply rub the skin off then chop the beetroots roughly.
  7. Now add the peppers and beetroot to the onions, add the paprika, the cumin and coriander, the chillies roughly chopped. Stir, then add the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock and most of the reserved beetroot water.
  8. Simmer for 30 minutes or so, check seasoning, add more water if needed. Once you are happy, blend the whole lot to a smooth soup.
  9. Serve with a sprinkle of black salt and a swirl of olive oil on top. Soured cream is an even better alternative.

You can make this even better by roasting more of the stuff. For example: roast the garlic, or use smoked garlic, or roast some tomatoes to use instead of the tin of chopped toms, perhaps even roast the beetroots. It all depends what you have the time and inclination for and on this occasion I kept it fairly simple.

As an aside, I also added another dried Asian chilli for some real heat. The result was some serious fire though, which might not be everyone’s ticket for a comforting shoup. We like it hot!

11 comments

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  1. Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops

    I love this! Sounds so earthy and warming. Perhaps the idea of a wooly blanket in a bowl isn’t the best (have visions of trying to chew on a wooly blanket!!!) but this is definitely food that will give you a great bug culinary hug! Fantastic!

    Thank you for taking part in this months Sweet Heat Challenge : )

    1. Matthew

      It’s good to have a challenge. Cooking is only one of my interests, so I seldom find time to sit down, think, and then experiment with new recipes. Joining in a couple of monthly challenges is making me find time to invent and be creative – which is great, as then I learn new techniques alongside.

      All that said, this soup is one I’ve made several times before (with variations!) and enjoy.

  2. Nessa

    I think roasted carrots puréed would be a good addition… Sorry Maureen 🙂

    1. Matthew

      I think you’re right, and I think if the carrots were part of the whole soup Maureen wouldn’t even notice. ; )

  3. Jenny Eatwell

    Oh my! Just how good does that sound? I only wish I could find Chipotle chillies somewhere local. I’m a bit restricted as to where I can go and so far, haven’t found any. I guess I’ll have to order them online!

    1. Matthew

      Any ol’ dried chilli would work in the soup, though the smoky chipotle flavour is good. Smoked garlic could bring the same thing, though.

  4. shaheen

    I am not that keen on beetroot, or beetroot soups but I have to say I am very intrigued by the flavours in this one.

  5. Jay

    This sounds so delicious! I’ve never tried beetroot anything, so this is definitely going on my list of things to try. Great recipe!

  6. Andrew Babicz

    As a gardener and having an allotment for the first time I am always on the look out for recipes and being half Polish your recipe for beetroot soup sounds like the one my relatives make in Krakow so tomorrow I’ll be trying it out!
    I’ll let you know how I get on!

    1. Matthew

      That’s great! Hope you enjoy it. What else do you have growing? My brother is seriously into his veg patch – he’s given me parsley root before now, which is brilliant because of course the leaves and stalk are basically just parsley so the whole plant is perfect. And you never get parsley root at the supermarket.

      1. Andrew Babicz

        Well I did the recipe and wow it is hot! I think I overdid the spices! I will be making more tomorrow without spices to dilute it down! This year has been bad on the allotment with a dry spring and a wet summer. It’s great having all the people around you as you can learn so much. I have a lot of horse radish and I was told one use is to peel it an put the roots in the freezer and take out when needed. Grated in mashed potatoes is lovely.
        Parsley is related to fennel, carrot and coriander so does produce a root and can be used like a carrot or a parsnip. Some plants in the same family are poisonous! Not much is growing on the allotment but I have lots of veg in the freezer.

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