I always think of beetroot as a winter vegetable but it actually comes into season in July so when I was on Moore Street to visit FXB’s I saw some huge bunches on sale at one of the stalls for only €2 and it immediately reminded me of a recipe I found on the BBC website I hadn’t cooked in a long time. There’s a few alterations in that I’ve increased the amount of beetroot to make the soup thicker and used fish sauce instead of salt because it feels like a more natural fit (with the bonus of the umami it provides too).
I also reused the same trick from my goat rendang of making a lemongrass infusion rather than adding the chopped sticks to the chilli paste. The reason for this is the soup really needs a smooth texture and if you don’t have a blender (a food processor isn’t sufficient as it chops instead of liquidising) your pureed soup will have horrible woody bits in it even if you pass it through a sieve. In fact, I’m not even sure using a blender will prevent the problem – there’s a risk it could make it worse as a lot more tiny shards of lemongrass could be produced – so I don’t take the risk. As well, there’s a warning from the BBC link to only blend the liquid just before you serve as you’ll lose the beautiful pink colour of the soup if it’s left out too long.
350g whole beetroots
2 clove garlic
2cm ginger, peeled
2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
1 star anise
2 kaffir lime leaves
5g cumin seeds
5ml fish sauce
200ml veal stock
200ml coconut milk
5ml fresh lime juice
5g finely chopped mint
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Coat the beetroot in oil, sprinkle on some salt and wrap each one in tinfoil.
- Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. When cooked, remove the outer skin (it should peel off easily) and roughly dice the beetroot.
- Blend the garlic, ginger and chilli in a food processor until a roughly smooth paste. Use some oil to loosen it up if it won’t blend initially.
- On a low heat, simmer the lemongrass is 150ml of water for around 25 minutes and then strain through some cheesecloth reserving the liquid.
- Toast the cumin in a small pan over a medium heat until fragrant and then grind to a powder.
- Heat some oil in a saucepan on a medium heat and gently fry the paste for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the kaffir lime leaves, star anise and cumin and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the fish sauce, lemongrass liquid, coconut milk, veal stock and half the beetroot and then simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lime leaves and the star anise and adjust the seasoning if needs be.
- Add the rest of the beetroot before blending to a smooth puree in a blender.
- Strain the soup though a fine sieve and then add the lime juice.
- Divide amongst the soup bowls and garnish with the mint.