Beetroot and Bramley Apple Soup

I’d really wanted to make Borscht but when my local fruit and veg stall only had sachets of cooked beetroot, I change course. The result, after a whizz around my kitchen for anything that I thought might improve its flavour, was a huge hit with my family, from little Jago to his ex-River Café dad (my son Zach). When my eyes roved round the kitchen looking for ingredients, they settled on a Bramley apple. It was sitting next to a handful of cherry tomatoes that could definitely join the beets but it jerked memories of a long ago recipe (I think from super-cook novelist Paul Bailey) for combining beetroot and cooking apple. The apple lends a fluffy texture and its sour flavour works well with sweet beetroot. (Take a look at Apple and Lime Borscht with Chipotle) Flavours in this soup are rounded with red pepper, spring onions, the cherry tomatoes and a couple of garlic cloves. Ideally you want home made chicken or ham stock but a couple of cubes worked well. I’m afraid I forgot to take a photo of the magenta-coloured soup but my photo shows our awning and heater for warm outside eating.

Serves 6

Prep: 20 min
Cook: 25 min

bunch spring onions
Knob of butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 Bramley cooking apple
about 10 squashy cherry tomatoes

400g boiled beetroot
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
squeeze lemon

Trim and finely slice the spring onions. Soften in the butte melted in 1 tbsp olive oil with a pinch of salt. Stir often and have the pan over a medium-low heat. Remove the pepper stalk, quarter and remove the white filament, rinsing away the seeds. Chop into small pieces. Crack the garlic, peel away the skin and chop. Stir both into the softening onion, cover and leave to cook (giving the occasional stir) while you quarter the apple, remove skin and core and chop. Stir tomatoes, peeled, chopped beetroot and apple into the pot, add the stock, increase the heat and bring to simmer. Reduce the heat to a steady simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes until everything is tender. Liquidize, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and lemon.