Inspired by Polish chlodnik, I made this chilled beetroot soup for one of our Twilight Gardening dinners this summer. It was surprisingly popular, I often think chilled soups can be a bit divisive – but that might be because Jo is always a bit suspicious when I suggest a chilled soup. The colour is so gorgeously pink and the earthy beets are balanced out with the tangy buttermilk and little sweetness from the date syrup. If you don’t have date syrup in the cupboard you can use a little honey instead.
The garnishes are everything here – boiled egg wedges, sliced radish, cubed cucumber and plenty of herbs – a little slick of sour cream or yoghurt dolloped on top before serving wouldn’t go amiss either
Serves 6 generously – if in small bowls as an starter serves 10
600g/5-6 medium beets
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
300ml full-fat natural yogurt
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped or grated)
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
1 teaspoon date syrup
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Fresh dill, or chives, finely chopped
¼ cucumber, peeled, very finely cubed
2 radishes, very finely sliced
2 hard-boiled eggs, cooled, peeled and cut into six wedges (optional)
Preheat the oven to 150C.
Wash the beetroot very thoroughly.
Scrub the beetroots well and put them in an oven proof dish with a lid. Drizzle over a little olive oil and season well with salt, Toss the beetroots in the oil and salt until the skins are well coated. Put on the lid.
Cook for 45 minutes and then check if the beetroots are soft by sticking a small sharp knife into the centre, it will yield easily. They will probably take a bit longer, about an hour or even an hour and 15 minutes. When the beets are soft take them out of the oven and leave them in the dish with the lid on to cool, trapping the moisture in means they will be easier to peel once they cool down.
Once the beets are cool enough to handle use a small knife to peel the beets. If they are fresh enough I find the skins will just slip off. Roughly chop the beets.
Using a stick blender thoroughly blend together the stock, buttermilk, yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice, date syrup and a bit of seasoning. Once smooth add the roasted beets and blend again until smooth or leave a bit chunky for more texture. Taste and add more seasoning and a little more date syrup if needed. Put in the fridge to chill and allow the flavours to meld for a couple of hours.
To serve pour the soup into bowls and top with the cubed cucumber, sliced radish, finely chopped dill or chives and wedges of hard-boiled eggs.