Thursday, July 13, 2006

In the summertime

I'm having friends over for dinner tomorrow night and I was pondering various possibilities for tomorrow's menu this morning. I knew I wanted to serve something cool and refreshing as a starter but I also wanted it to be something special, not one of the ubiquitous summerfoods such as gazpacho or insalata caprese. Nothing wrong with gazpacho or insalata caprese but today I was looking for something with a little more of a twist. I finally settled on a chilled beetroot and cucumber soup. I love the beetroot's sweet, somewhat earthy taste, balanced by the cucumber's watery freshness. The soup's colour is amazing, too, a very dark pink with spreckles of green from the dill. Last but not least, I could make it today which will save me time tomorrow - handy when you work full time.

Chilled beetroot and cucumber soup with dill
(serves 4)

- 300g cooked beetroot, peeled and choppped
- 1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and chopped
- 2 tubs of natural yoghurt (360g)
- 1 dl vegetable broth
- 4 sprigs of dill, finely chopped
- 2 small sprigs of dill to use as garnish
- salt, pepper
- 2 tablespoons sour cream (optional)

- put the vegetables, broth and yoghurt in a blender and blend to a purée
- stir in the dill and season with salt and pepper and chill for at least two hours or overnight
- serve in small bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream if using
- garnish each bowl with a small sprig of dill

The measurements in the recipe don't have to be followed to the letter. Taste the soup as you go and add a little more broth, yoghurt, salt, pepper etc. until you're happy with the result. I have made this soup with raw beetroot which I wrapped in foil and roasted in the oven and then blended into a purée. Beetroot tastes fantastic when cooked this way but it takes a lot of time. As you might not wish to spend hours in front of the hot oven these days (I didn't), I used precooked beetroot in the recipe. Another trick to speed things up is to use liquid broth concentrate instead of stock cubes, the advantage being that you can add cold broth to your soup and it won't take as long to chill.

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