Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tunip and Beet Soup - Pink Food! With Bacon!

...taken with my cell phone - the battery contact problem well known to Canon for years before I bought my Powershot got me.

I am so far behind with posts it's not funny.  Very soon, we'll be celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a Posole post - see? In the mean time, since we've been having a (very) cool, cloudy and rainy spring (for us - I don't want to hear any bitchin' from the NW or wherever your weather's crappy, okay?) a root vegetable soup seemed like a good idea.

I made this soup because I had a bunch of leftover beet scraps from my failed baked beet chip experiment. Failed because while I have awesome knife skills (it's true), I am not (yet) a human mandoline able to cut identical, perfect even slices and the chips were either leathery (too thick), too crispy (too thin - read: burned on the edges) or uneven (leathery on one side, burned on the other). I also had the scraps from three turnips I cubed and roasted - in total about 3/4 cup of leftover diced beets and 1 1/2 to 2 cups of diced turnip. What to do? Make soup.

Oh - I think the golden turnips are referred to as rutabagas. The purple and white turnips are, turnips.

I like beets, but a huge bowl of exclusively beet soup can be a little overwhelming as much as I admire the earthy taste. The turnips do a nice job of mellowing that out a little. Oh and I garnished it with bacon and two of the too-leathery but perfectly good tasting beet chips.  This is very simple but it was very satisfying.

Recipe: Turnip and Beet Soup Garnished with Bacon

Serves 2 as a starter - easily doubled

Blender or food processor. An immersion blender will do, but the soup will have a little more texture
Sauce pan 2 quart
Small saute pan

  • 1 3/4 cups peeled, diced turnip (I used golden turnips a/k/a rutabagas)
  • 3/4 cups peeled, diced beets
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided (plus a little extra)
  • hot water (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups stock (vegetable or chicken - water will do just fine, too)
  • 3 slices smoked bacon cut crosswise in 1/4" lardons, i.e. strips.
  • salt
  • ground pepper

Heat a little over one tablespoon of the olive oil in the sauce pan on medium-high. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the diced beets and turnips along with a couple of pinches of salt. Adjust the heat down if necessary and cook the turnips and beets but don't let them caramelize (brown) for about 5-6 minutes or as long as the pan doesn't dry out. Clear a spot in the middle of the sauce pan and add the minced garlic. Pour about two teaspoons of olive oil on top of the minced garlic and let it cook until the underside is the color of  light straw - watch that it doesn't burn.

Stir to incorporate the garlic with the turnips and beets (Burnips? At least it's better than "Teets", agreed?) and cook 3 more minutes on medium low. Add one-half cup of hot water, cover and turn the heat down until the water is at a low simmer. Cook until the turnips and beets are quite tender - maybe about 5 to 8 minutes.

Heat up the small (8" will do) saute pan with a teaspoon or so of olive oil on medium high. When the oil shimmers, add the bacon lardons and cook until done. Drain on paper towels.

Stir-in 2 cups of stock, bring the mixture back to a full simmer (uncovered) and cook for 5 more minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning - definitely add some pepper. If you do add seasoning, simmer for a couple more minutes. The vegetables should be quite soft.

Take the pan off the burner and let it cool down or even refrigerate it up to a day ahead of time. Make sure your soup has cooled down considerably. Don't fill the food processor or blender more than halfway and start it on a very low speed and hold a folded up towel tightly on the lid (if you're using a blender) before you start the machine. THAT kitchen accident would look like a bad road accident with you as its primary -and scalded- victim. You know, I was going to reference "wood chipper" in that last sentence, but since we're talking about food and all, now that you have that lovely image in your head...

Puree the soup until very smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning and reheat. Serve in bowls garnished with a generous handful of the crispy bacon.

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