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Beets are available in abundance now, and this soup perfectly showcases their earthy richness and gentle sweetness. Serving a soup cold can be a challenge, since the low temperature can blunt flavors. My version pulls flavor cues from summer salads; all of the ingredients with exception of the beets and eggs are uncooked. An infusion of Ana N.36 brings everything nicely together.
1 cup of water
1 cup of ice
3 large beets, boiled until soft, peeled, and coarsely shredded
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bunch radishes, coarsely grated
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 small bunch dill, finely chopped (reserve some top fronds for garnish)
1 fuji apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 quart buttermilk, or kefir, or 50:50 yogurt:water with a bit of lemon juice
4 tender-hard boiled eggs
Bring the water to a boil, add the Ana N.36, steep for ten minutes, strain, add ice, and chill.
Mix the shredded beets with cucumber, radishes, scallion, dill, apple, and buttermilk.
Allow to sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to meld. Immediately before serving, add the Ana infused ice water. Salt to taste, shooting for a level that brings out the natural sweetness of the beets.
Serve with sour cream, a quartered or chopped egg, fresh black pepper, and dill fronds. Also great with buttered sourdough toast and a glass of Bandol rosé. Etna bianco, schiava, or reds from Jura are also great choices.
• This is a fantastic accompaniment to a deli meal, pickled herring, whitefish salad, lox bagels, basically any of the fishy favorites.
• Some new flavor combinations to explore (you can sub red beets also if you can't find the varieties below):
• Omit the buttermilk, water, and ice, chop the beets into small cubes instead of shredding, add 2 tbsp of lemon juice and 2 tbsp of olive oil, and toss to coat for a fresh summer salad. Great with feta and/or spiced croutons.
• From my brother Patrick: try a variant on Japanese nanban-zuke. Prepare all of the vegetables minus the dill, add 1/3 cup of rice wine vinegar, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp mirin, and 2 tsp Lula spice. Cut 1 pound of fish (salmon, grouper, and mackerel are all good), into 1 inch pieces, dust with flour, and deep fry until cooked through. Remove pieces to a glass container and add the vegetable and vinegar mix. Chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight. Great with rice.
Food image and recipe © Christian Leue
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