The colour of this soup is so dramatic it’s almost worth making it just for its looks. The texture, too, is beguiling. Fluffy, yet creamy, light and easy to digest, satisfying too, as if glides over your tongue leaving a delicious trail of sweet sour beetroot. The sourness comes from cooking apples and fresh lime but a hint of smoked chipotle, one of the more recent variations on the classic Tabasco, gives the soup a hazy hit of chilli. Like regular borscht, it can be served hot or cold but on balance I think I prefer it hot with a spoonful of lemony crème fraiche and garnish of freshly snipped chives. Beetroot might be available all year round but right now it’s in season. Later in the week I’ll be offering another, completely different beetroot recipe, cooking it with chicken flavoured by freshly ground coriander and lemon. If you think you don’t like beetroot, give these two recipes a try and get ready to change your mind.
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 25 min
1 large garlic clove
500g cooking apples
750ml light chicken or vegetable stock
4 shakes smoked chipotle Tabasco
crème fraiche and chives to serve
Halve, trim and peel the onion. Dice finely. Crack the garlic with your fist, flake away the paper skin and finely chop. Melt the butter in a lidded pan over a medium-low heat and stir in the onion and garlic. Season generously with salt, stir again, cover and leave to cook, giving the occasional stir, while you prepare the apples and beetroot. Squeeze 1 lime into a mixing bowl. Quarter the apples, cut out the core and chop the flesh. Mix into the lime as you go. Trim and peel the beetroots with a potato peeler. Grate on the large hole of a box grater or using the food processor. By now the onion will be softened but uncoloured. Stir in the apple and beetroot and add the stock. Bring to the boil, establish a steady simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes until the apple is fluffy and beetroot tender. Blitz in batches. Return to a clean pan, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and lime juice. Add the Tabasco, taste again, adding more to taste. Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche and snipped chives.