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Saturday, 3 February 2007

beet me, beet me

Adam and I were in Berlin for New Year and one of the yummiest parts was the fact that, wherever we went, we could grab an instant hit of nourishing love for around 2 euros a bowl. But try and tempt Londoners with beetroot soup and you can't give it away. I know. I've attempted to share my lunch at work. People look at me like I'm offering them the carcass of their pet cat in a bowl of warm piss.
But back to Berlin. We stayed with our mate Hugo and he kept a massive pot of beetroot soup refrigerating on the balcony alongside a couple of slabs of beer. Whenever we needed a bowl of sweet beet warmth he'd drag the pot inside and throw it on the stove. It's the simplicity of it that I love, that and the bloody redness. And it costs bugger all to make.

I make it the way Hugo did, with mountains of freshly ground pepper, then leave it sitting on the stove for a few days and just keep reheating it till it's done.

What you need for about 4 bowls:
A medium to large onion
Thyme sprigs
Bay Leaves (What do they do exactly? And is it possible for them to stop working if you've had them too long? I have often wondered this upon reaching for a bag that has been in my cupboard for months... and months)
Veggie stock
One large (or half a dozen small) beetroots
Same for potatoes
A few carrots
Undrinkeable red wine (no point wasting booze you can use)

Making it:
Peel the beetroots and admire your bloody looking hands.
Chop all the veggies into mouth-manageable sizes.
Using your soup pan, soften the chopped onion in olive oil on a low heat (Don’t be tight with the oil.)
Chuck in a bay leaf or two and let them work their inexplicable magic.
Pour in some red wine if you fancy, and reduce it. It adds a little something but is not essential.
Throw in the veggies and stir fry them for a good five minutes.
Add shitloads of pepper, a little salt and some sprigs of thyme.
Pour in your stock.
Bring it to the boil then simmer it as long as you like (an hour at the very least.)

After about the third reheat there’s virtually no colour left in the beetroots. But I love the way they keep their firmness while the carrots and potatoes go soft. If I run out of liquid, I just add more water, a bit of wine and maybe a little vegemite.

I just ate a bowl while I was writing this and I am full of beety warmth. Plus I was listening to a sunny Lionel Hampton song that I'm sharing below because it was such a lovely accompaniement to the sweet, red beets. Beats for beets. Ha ha.

Lionel Hampton - On the Sunny Side of the Street mp3 download

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