Roasted Beet and Tomato Soup
- Prep Time: 3 hours to roast the tomatoes, about 1 hour to roast the beets.
- Servings: 4 to 6.
Borscht is the most familiar beet soup and many love it for its versatility because it can be made all vegetarian or with chunks of beef, and it can be served cold or hot. But roasted beets on their own can easily become a luxurious soup, made with the puréed deep purple beets and good stock or broth. But a soup with only beets can be almost too one-note in flavor -- the earthy beets need other flavors to give them contrast and complexity.
That's where the roasted tomatoes come in. Without changing the soup's purple color, the tomatoes add acid and contrast to the sweet beets. Accents from grated ginger and lemon juice make the beets even more interesting without any distraction.
While this soup is easy to make, it takes some lead time to slow cook the tomatoes and to roast the beets. It's best to slow roast the tomatoes in a 250° F oven for about 3 hours, giving the tomatoes time to reduce and intensify without browning. Cook a whole sheet pan full of them and you can use a few in this soup and use the rest as an antipasti, tossed with pasta, or added to steamed green beans for a special side dish.
Roasting the beets in foil means you'll both roast and steam them, making it far easier to remove the skins when you're done -- they should slip right off with a slight rub of a paper towel.
It's important that the beets and every other ingredient are cooked completely to tenderness so that when you purée them they become completely smooth. Instead of using a food processor you can certainly use a stick blender but take the time to get every lump reduced to a purée for the best result.
- 5 to 6 beets, equal to about 4 cups of cooked beets
- 6 roasted plum tomato halves
- 1 medium red onion, sliced thin
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 6 cups chicken stock (or water for a vegetarian version)
- Garnish: sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Preheat oven to 250° F.
- Slice 10 or so plum tomatoes in half the long way and toss with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper.
- Spread on a sheet pan, cut side up, in a single layer. Cook in a pre-heated oven for about 3 hours, giving the pan a shake every so often. The tomatoes will slowly cook and reduce and the skins will loosen, without getting brown except perhaps along the edges. Remove from the oven and slip off the peels.
- Reserve 6 pieces for the soup and refrigerate the rest for another use.
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Remove any stem or root from the beets and scrub off any excess dirt.
- Cut a 2-foot piece of aluminum foil and place the washed, unpeeled beets in the center. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of water and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, plus a pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper. Wrap up the foil around the beets like a package, making sure the openings are all sealed. Place on a rimmed sheet pan or in a baking dish in case the foil package leaks during baking.
- Cook for about an hour until the beets are completely soft and tender. The time will vary depending on the size of your beets. You can check for doneness by squeezing the foil package (use a pot holder so to not burn your fingers!) or else open the package and speak each beet with a paring knife to make sure the knife slips in easily.
- Open the package and let the beets cool to a point where you can slip off the peels, helped with a paper towel. Hold until you're ready to cook the soup.
- In a large pot add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Put over medium heat. Add the sliced onion, sliced garlic, and a pinch of salt and cook until completely tender, but take care to not brown them because the garlic can become bitter if too brown. Your goal is to have both the onion and garlic be soft.
- Transfer to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Return to the pot.
- Cut the peeled beets into chunks and using a food processor or blender, purée until completely smooth. Transfer to the pot with the puréed onion and garlic.
- Remove the peels from the 6 pieces of roasted tomato and purée until completely smooth and add to the pot.
- Stir in the grated ginger and lemon juice.
- Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until flavors are combined and the soup is hot, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
- Serve with a garnish of a dollop of sour cream or thick Greek yogurt.