Beet, Potato and Leek Soup

Friday, January 13, 2012

Today I saw snow for the first time this winter. I went out running, hoping to beat forecasted rain/snow in time. On my way back a faint drizzle turned into frozen rain which started bouncing off my shoulders. The wind picked up, and it started snowing. There was something so majestic about bare gray-greenish trees in the dim winter sunlight, surrounded by snow flakes. The roads were completely empty. I enjoy running in the cold because I find it to be a great motivator - if you stop running, you freeze.

Being out in cold weather makes me want to have something really warm afterwards, to heat up from inside. After a run I like to have a warm cup of chai. In the evening, I seek comfort in soup. A hearty, creamy, filling soup. One of my favorite soups for such occasions is potato and leek soup. Potatoes and leeks, however, can end up looking much like porridge when pureed (sometimes I add the green leek parts which people usually discard, sauteed until very soft, and a large bunch of green herbs to achieve a greener hue for the soup). This time I wanted to experiment with a different color, so I added beets.

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The base for this soup is my mom's vichyssoise recipe, but I omitted the cream and used vegetable instead of chicken stock. I roasted the beets before adding them to the potatoes and leeks at the very last minute. Once everything was pureed, the color turned a rich dark burgundy. The taste was interesting, complex, and delicious. If you take a spoonful with your eyes closed, it begins just like the taste of the potato and leek soup, creamy and slightly grainy with a rich aroma of sautéed leeks, and gradually turns into the earthy taste of the beets. 

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I prefer the soup plain. However, you can add buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt, which would go well with it.

Beet, Potato and Leek Soup
(Serves 4)

You will need:
3 small beets
1 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
3-4 leeks, dark green parts removed, chopped
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 medium gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups vegetable gluten-free stock
1 tbsp parsley leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Remove any stems and root ends from the beets, leaving them unpeeled. Drizzle the beets with the olive oil and wrap in foil, leaving a small opening at the top, and place in a baking dish. Roast the beets for 1 hour or until done (test with a knife, you should not feel much resistance). Remove from foil and let cool.
2. Melt butter in a medium pot on medium-low heat, sauté leeks and onion until soft and tender but not browned, about 5-7 minutes. Add potatoes and vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes (or until potatoes are done).
3. Peel and chop the beets and add them to pot. Simmer for about two minutes more, letting beets run their color. Turn off the heat, strain the vegetables, reserving the stock. Purée the vegetables, together with parsley, in a food processor. Pour the purée back into the pot, and add the reserved stock in portions for desired consistency. Bring back to a simmer, and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

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