By Louise Oliver
The sweet, earthy flavour of beetroot coupled with the sharp kick of horseradish is one of my favourite pairings. This recipe makes a simple, velvety soup and an alternative to Borscht. For taste buds that prefer less spice, leave out the horseradish and add some mint and chives to the yoghurt.
4 garlic cloves (unpeeled), bashed
2-3 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons of oil
1 litre of vegetable stock
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
For the Horseradish Cream
3-4cm piece of horseradish peeled and freshly grated (or 1 tablespoon of creamed horseradish)
200ml of soured cream, crème fraiche or yoghurt.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Scrub the beetroot well but leave them whole. Put them in a roasting tin with the garlic, thyme and bay leaf and pour over the oil and salt and pepper. Give everything a good mix with your hands. Pour over a glass of water and cover the tin tightly with foil to speed up the cooking process. Roast until the beetroot is tender when pierced with a knife. Depending on the size of the beet, this will take roughly an hour.
You can then get on with making the horseradish cream. Mix the grated or creamed horseradish with the yoghurt or cream.
Take the foil of the roasting tin and wait until the beets are cool enough to handle. Then cut off the tops and tails and the skins should easily slip off. Chop up the beetroot into chunks.
The garlic skins should easily slip off too. Add these alongside the beetroot in a bowl or blender with a quarter of the stock and blitz to make a smooth purée. Put this purée into a pan with the rest of the stock till it’s hot but not boiling. Check the seasoning and add more if required. Serve the soup with a good dollop of the yoghurt or cream.