I’m not sure if this way of preparing beetroots is very popular in the place where you live, but it’s very popular in a country I originate from. There’s lots of ways you can prepare beetroot soup and this way is the Summer version – using beetroot leaves and plenty of fresh dill. There’s also a cold version of this particular soup, but to be honest I never tried it – it’s usually made with yogurt, kefir or sour cream with addition of radish and fresh cucumber instead of cooked beans. Served on the very hot Summer days as a light and refreshing dinner. Now when I think about it I feel tempted to try this cold Summer version, maybe next time when I get some beetroots.
But today, when the heatwave left Scotland, hot beetroot soup is absolutely spot on. Still fresh and aromatic, but won’t cool you down more than temperature outside 😉
If never come to your mind to prepare soup using beetroot, but you like their taste as much as I do, you should definitely give it a try.
Do I need to use flageolet beans?
Absolutely not. You can use any beans that are available to you. Dry or from the can. I tried flageolet beans when I worked with French chef couple years ago. Flageolet beans originate from France and are typical for French cuisine. In my family we’ve used small white beans or butter beans. But you can actually use any beans you have on hand. Either dried or straight from the can.
The best will be cannellini, pinto, white beans or butter beans, but you could also try emedame beans or another very Summery type of beans – broad beans. Flageolet beans have their subtle, delicate flavour thanks to being harvested from their pods right before they fully ripen. They are dried in the shade to maintain their light green colour. Dried flageolet beans should be soaked before cooking. Some cooks recommend soaking over 6 hours, others less as when beans start to fermenting process they loose their gentle flavour. Anyhow, soaking let them cook faster. So I would also recommend to give them at least two hours of soaking before you start cooking.
How to retain beautiful purple colour of the soup?
I love beets and beetroot soup, and I know that keeping that beautiful purple-pink colour is not easy. But with years of experience I’ve managed to develop my own way of making it so after cooking the colour remains intensive.
First use young, and not overgrown beetroots. Beets should have intensive, juicy purple colour, with no white or pale rings on the inside. That’s why young, Summer beets will be great for the soup – they have intensive colour and plenty of juice. Then the way of cooking is also or even more important. If you let the soup to boil too intensively you’ll will loose most of that purple colour. Keep an eye on it, and when you see that soup will start to boil in couple seconds minimise the heat and let it only very gently simmer. Also addition of some kind of acid like lemon juice or vinegar will prevent from loosing colour. Simply add a little bit of it when you start cooking the soup or just before it starts to boil. Don’t let the soup to overcook. It should be cooked just enough to make the beets tender. Also if you let the soup sit for about an hour or two before you serve it it will help to develop the colour even more. You can obviously reheat it, but remember – never bring it to boil.
I also recommend adding some kind of fat to the soup – this can be butter, coconut oil or olive oil. Beets contain fats, proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins – vitamin A, B vitamins (vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and B9), vitamins C, E and K. Beetroot is also rich in mineral salts such as like – boron, chlorine, zinc, fluorine, phosphorus, cobalt, lithium, magnesium, manganese, copper, molybdenum, potassium, sodium, calcium, iron. Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are much better absorbed into the bloodstream when consumed with fat. They are stored in the body’s fatty tissue and are not excreted as easily as water-soluble ones. Therefore, a little bit of butter should always be added when cooking vegetables.
And as a cherry on top, place hard boiled egg when you serve your soup and garnish with plenty of fresh, aromatic dill. You will be surprised how well all the ingredients goes together.
Summer beetroot soup with flageolet beans & hard boiled egg
- 2 handfuls of flegeolet beans
- 3-4 small young purple beetroots with leaves
- slice of butter
- natural rock salt to taste
- pinch of black pepper
- couple bay leaves
- about 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 tsp sugar
- freshly chopped dill
- double cream to taste
- hard boiled eggs
Start with soaking flageolet beans for couple hours (at least 2 but no longer than 6 hours). Soaking will help them cook faster. Always drain them from the water they were soaking in and pour fresh water for boil.
But if you’re as spontaneous as I’m, and you have no time to soak the beans in advance start with cooking. It will take at least an hour until they become tender. Add them to the boiling salty water, cover pot with a lid and cook slowly. They will soak up lots of water, so add more if needed.
In the meantime thoroughly wash beetroots, chop the leaves, peel and chop beetroot bulbs. Boil the eggs – one egg for each portion.
When beans are ready drain them from the water and place back in the pot adding a slice of butter. Add chopped beetroots and leaves, good pinch of salt, pinch of pepper and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add water – less if you like your soup quite thick, more if you like it on the watery side. I like it somewhere in the middle. Bring it to boil, when you see that the soup will start boiling in couple seconds immediately lower the heat to minimum, and add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Acid from the vinegar will prevent purple colour from becoming pale. From my experience if you add it just before it starts to boil and you won’t let it boil intensively but just simmer gently, it keep the colour intensive. Cover the pot with lid and let it gently simmer until beetroot will become tender. It should take about 15 minutes depending how big pieces of beetroot you chopped. Add more salt if needed and more vinegar or lemon juice if you like it more spicy. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar to enhance the sweet beetroot flavour.
To develop the beautiful purple colour even more, after cooking let it sit for about an hour before you serve it. You can then reheat it, but try not to brig it to boil. Add as much double cream as you like, sprinkle with lots of freshly chopped dill.
Serve with hard boiled egg and garnished with more dill. Enjoy!