Herbed beet soup with cashew sour cream – By Wendy Andresen – Rockland – Camden – Knox – Courier-Gazette

By Wendy Andresen | Sep 19, 2018

Can’t beet this! I hope you saved the beets after you made last week’s recipe, because you’ll need them for this soup. Beets are nutritional giants, because they’re chock-full of essential everyday nutrients like B vitamins, iron, manganese, copper, magnesium and potassium. These ruby gems also are a goldmine of unique health-boosting phytonutrients that provide antioxidant support in a different way than other antioxidant-rich vegetables.

Many of these phytonutrients have been shown to function as anti-inflammatory compounds. As impressive as these nutritional benefits are, what I like most about this soup is its spicy, slightly sweet, complex earthiness that is comforting on chilly fall evenings. Don’t skip the five-spice powder. Even though it’s a tiny amount, it’s the secret ingredient that makes this soup especially intriguing. This soup can also be served cold. And the beet goes on (sorry, couldn’t resist that).

Ingredients for soup:

4 cups vegetable broth

4 cups peeled, coarsely cut beets (about 6 medium beets)

1/2 sweet onion, diced

2 Tbsp. canola oil

3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (I used my best cherry balsamic)

3 Tbsp. Madeira or cream sherry

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. salt (or to taste)

2 bay leaves

1/4 tsp. dried thyme or 4 large sprigs fresh

1/4  tsp. dried oregano or one large sprig fresh

1/4 tsp. dried basil or one large sprig fresh

1/4 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

thinly sliced scallions or chives, for garnish

cashew sour cream (recipe below), for garnish

Directions for soup:

1. In a soup pot, sauté chopped onions in canola oil on medium heat until translucent and slightly caramelized, about 15 minutes.

2. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

3. Add remaining ingredients, except for scallions and cashew sour cream. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until beets are extremely tender, perhaps 30 to 45 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and any herb sprigs. It’s OK if leaves remain in the pot, but you do want to remove the stems.

4. With an immersion blender, puree soup until all the beets have been pureed and soup is completely smooth. If you do not have an immersion blender, cool the soup enough until you can puree it in a blender.

5. Taste and correct seasonings. The amount of salt you add depends on the saltiness of the vegetable broth and your personal taste. Serve with cashew sour cream and scallions for garnish.

Cashew sour cream

Ingredients for sour cream:

1 1/4 cup plain unsweetened soymilk

1/2 cup whole raw cashews

1/4 cup refined coconut oil, melted

1 1/2 tsp. lactic acid powder (order online)

1/4 tsp. salt

Directions for sour cream:

1. Soak the cashews overnight in the soymilk. Put the cashews and soymilk in a high-speed blender, add the salt, and blend for at least 2 minutes, until completely smooth.

2. With the blender on high, add the melted coconut oil.

3. Reduce the speed to low and add the lactic acid powder. The cream will thicken immediately. Turn the blender off. Do not continue to blend once thickened.

4. Store the finished cashew sour cream in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It will continue to thicken as it chills. Consume within 10 days.

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