Monday, November 16, 2015

Chilled Beet Soup from Le French Oven

My buddies and I over at Virtual Potluck loved the cookbook Le French Oven so much, we decided to do a group post about it. AND we've got cookbooks to give to you. AND something else.

Do you know what a French oven is? You might have one, and not even know it.

According to some definitions, Dutch ovens are made from uncoated cast iron, but similar coated pots are French ovens. There are of course, French French ovens - coated cast iron pots made in France.

The book Le French Oven focuses on cooking in different types of French ovens, from large ones to individual ones. I have at least a dozen pages bookmarked, with recipes I want to try. And I've made a few.

But for this post, I decided to make beet soup. Because I love soup and I love beets, and this recipe is completely different from my usual.

I usually make beet soup similar to what my mom made - a clear soup that's a teeny bit tart. Then sour cream is added at the table. Mom's beet soup could be served hot, warm, cool, or chilled. And I pretty much liked it every possible way.

This soup is designed to be served chilled, and it's blended with buttermilk. A lot of buttermilk. The result it a very pretty pink soup.

I had to make one little change to the recipe. It called for using beet greens as a garnish. The beets I bought at the farmers market were end-of-season beets, and the greens were really beat up. They weren't really appetizing either as garnish or in the soup. So, while I made the rest of the recipe according to the book's instructions, I made a different garnish.

While I didn't make the garnish this time, I do like the idea of floating a "salad" on top of the soup. I might give it a try next time I have pretty beet greens.

If you have pretty greens, this includes those instructions, but I'll include my variation as well. Just in case.

Gorgeous Chilled Beet Soup
with Beet Greens Salad
Adapted from Le French Oven by Hillary Davis

8 beets, with good looking leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 quarts buttermilk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
2 cracks freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white or wine vinegar

Wash, trim, and peel the beets - wear rubber gloves if you don't want to stain your hands!

Place parchment or wax paper on your cutting board if you don't want to stain it. Coarsely shred 2 beets and set aside. Slice the remaining beets into large pieces.

Pull the leafy part of the leaves off of the thick stems and discard the stems. Finely chiffonade the greens so you have a tightly packed 1/2 cup. Use any remaining greens for whatever you like.

Place the sliced beets in the French oven with enough water to cover. Add the lemon juice and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook the beets until they are tender - about 40-60 minutes. Drain the beets.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, put them in a food processor or blender, in batches if necessary, with the buttermilk, sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper. Blend until very smooth. Pour the finished puree back into the French oven.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt and/or pepper, if desired. Cover the French oven and refrigerate until the soup is chilled.

Just before you're ready to serve, whisk together the oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and vinegar. Toss in the grated beets and the beet greens. Mix well to coat.

Serve the soup in bowls and top with the beet salad.

Note: Since my beet greens weren't edible, I garnished with peeled and julienned cucumber pieces instead.

All of the participating members of Virtual Potluck received a copy of the book from the publisher as well as a serving item from Le Creuset; I got the soup tureen shown in the photos. The publisher is providing books for the winners as well as an oval Dutch oven for one winner.

Giveaway is over.