“The beet is the most intense of vegetables.” So says Tom Robbins in the opening line of Jitterbug Perfume, a book which I haven’t read, but very soon will, because anyone who finds the time and space to praise the humble beet will no doubt have many more relevant observations to make about the world.
Alas, this chilled beet soup was born upon an evening when I was actually craving dill. (What? Yes, dill. Moving on.) Standing in front of the open fridge, my nose buried in a bunch of fresh, fragrant dill, my eye fell upon four little beets, already boiled, batting their lashes at me from a plastic container. And I was struck by an idea. I researched “beet and dill” soups and, after plucking out what I liked from several recipes, came up with the version below. If I do say so myself, it provides the perfect refreshment on a sticky summer’s day. It’s light and tangy, with plenty of dill to pump up the flavour and indulge any weirdo cravings.
Chilled Beet Soup With Dill
To make at least 4 servings, melt a generous cube of butter in a large pot. (I actually recommend using butter or ghee for this recipe, even if you usually use something else. It accounts for a richer flavour and texture, especially if you’re not into soup cubes.) Toss in 1/2 onion, chopped, and cook until translucent. Then add 1 tsp mustard seeds and cook a couple more minutes, until the seeds start “jumping around” in the pot. After that, add 1 small carrot, grated, and 4 small beets, also grated. (It doesn’t matter if your beets are already boiled or not. Just grate them and toss them in the pot.) Cook everything for a few minutes, until the vegetables start producing juices. Then add 1 tbsp white wine vinegar and cover everything with 4 cups water (or stock, if you prefer). Bring to a boil and, if using raw beets, simmer for about 20 minutes; if using boiled beets, 5 to 10 minutes should be enough. Finally, add a hearty heaping of finely chopped dill. Season with salt and pepper and, if necessary, add more vinegar. Serve the soup chilled or at room temperature, optionally with a dollop of sour cream, accompanied by a slice of rye bread.