I like summer and all, but when the leaves start changing and the weather cools, I start getting uncontrollably hungry. This can cause problems. Like, say, when I get back from the store with just about every fall vegetable known to man, convincing myself that it's totally reasonable to add each and every one of them into the same pot of soup. Luckily, my better sense came through, and I edited the soup down to a delicata squash (another type of winter squash would also work) and apple soup. Sounds great, right? But then I looked over at the counter and a bunch of beets were looking at me, begging to find a way in.
Though I could have just tossed them in, I knew it would change the color from a gorgeous autumnal gold to a muddy red. But what if I could add the beets separately at the end? Along with sweetness, the chopped up beets would also add some much needed texture to the blended soup.
Thing is, beets take a long time to roast whole. Though not a huge deal, I wanted to see if I could get the cooking time under half an hour. Cutting the beets into wedges and then roasting them helped tremendously. But I also took some guidance from Barbara Kafka's Vegetable Love. She recommends, of all techniques, microwaving: "When baked, the beets retain a maximum of color and flavor. Microwave cooking achieves the same effect rapidly and with almost no mess." I understand that some of you wouldn't dream of opening up your microwaves, so I've included both recipes so you can decide.
The result is everything I wanted. The blended soup is tart and creamy, while the beets add a pop of color and some much needed sweetness. Bacon lends some meatiness, while the drizzle of yogurt (or sour cream) adds tang.
- 1 pound beets (about 2 medium)sliced into 8 wedges
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 2 pounds delicata squash (about 2 medium), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 1/2 tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 4 cups low sodium canned or homemade chicken stock
- 1/2 cup yogurt or sour cream
- 3 tablespoons chopped chives
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place beets on a rimmed baking sheet and cover tightly with coil. Cook until tender or a knife can easily slip into the skin, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, discard foil, and let cool. Peel off the skins and chop into 1/4-inch cubes. To microwave the beets: Place the beets in a small microwave-safe dish, and cover with plastic wrap. Cook for ten minutes. Carefully peel off the plastic wrap, and check if a knife can easily slip in the skin. If not, cook for an additional two to four minutes until tender. When done, let cool for a few minutes, peel the skins off, and chop into 1/4-inch cubes.
Add the bacon to a large heavy-bottomed pot set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon has rendered its fat and starts to crisp up. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon. Discard all but two tablespoons of the fat.
Add the chopped onion and a pinch of salt, and cook until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and ginger, stir well, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the squash and apples, stir well, then add the stock. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, andthen reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the squash is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
Using a standing blender or immersion blender, puree the soup in batches until the smooth, pressing soup through a fine mesh strainer into a clean pot. Reheat soup, season to taste with salt and pepper, and, if desired, thin with extra broth or water.
Ladle some of the soup into a warm bowl. Add a quarter of the beets and bacon in the middle. Drizzle with some yogurt or sour cream, and garnish with chives. Repeat with remaining bowls.