Creme de Betterave (Cold Beet Soup Recipe)

Creme de Betterave (Cold Beet Soup Recipe) Recipe

We just picked our last large batch of beets from the garden. I steamed the candy striped beets, red beets and golden beets and blended them with a mixture of bean and rice porridge (I used mung beans). I've started introducing new foods to my 9-month old baby Aria, and the natural sweetness from the beets works well for infants.

It's pretty nutritious and filling for adults too, so I served the same dish for the family dinner but with a twist. I added pistachio paste for extra flavor and coarsely crushed pistachios for crunch. And for the dinner presentation, I topped the thick soup with goat cheese-infused cream. Who said "baby" food can't be delicious?


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Ingredients

Yields: 10 mini appetizers

3 small whole beets, peeled and steamed
⅓ cup roasted, unsalted pistachio nuts
2 tablespoons basmati rice
1 tablespoon mung beans (or any lentils)
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
¼ cup heavy whipping cream, to taste
1 teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground


Directions

Cooking mung bean rice porridge:

Wash and rinse the rice and mung beans thoroughly in several water baths (about three times). Discard any floating or odd-shaped lentils or grains of rice. Drain the lentils, removing as much of water as possible. No soaking time is needed. 

In a small saucepan, place the rice, mung beans and the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a bubbly simmer. Cook for about 20-30 minutes; stir occasionally until the grains of rice burst and the broth thickens. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool.

For the pistachio paste:

Shell the pistachios. Try to remove as much skin as possible. Line a cutting board with plastic-wrap. Place all the pistachios onto the cutting board. Cover them with another layer of plastic wrap. Slightly crush the nuts using a meat tenderizer mallet. Reserve a bit crushed pistachios for garnish.

Transfer them to a mortar and pestle (or a mini food processor) and grind the pistachios until a coarse paste is formed. Add extra-virgin olive oil and salt and turn the coarse mill into a paste. Stir well.


For the topping: In a saucepan, combine the crumbled goat cheese and whipping cream. Warm until the cheese is melted and dissolved in the cream. Let cool to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator. Once the cream is cold, whisk the cream until thickened. Season with salt and white pepper.


Assembly time:

In a food processor or a blender, combine the coarsely chopped steamed beets and ½ cup of rice porridge. Mix until the machine flows smoothly. Add the pistachio paste and blend one more time. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Line up verrine glasses (see tips). Spoon in the beet soup. 

Top with a "quenelle" of savory whipped cream: using 2 teaspoons, gather one portion of the whipped cream in one spoon. Scrape the loose mixture from the sides using the other spoon. Repeat between the 2 spoons until the mound is tightly packed. Slide the mound onto the beets and sprinkle with the reserved crushed pistachios.

Serve at room temperature with garlic bread or cheese twists.

Bon appétit!


Tips

I served the dish in small verrines. "Verrine" is just a fancy word for "glasses"; they're very popular in France. 

The key to a well-balanced vegetarian diet is to combine a starch (such as rice) and a legume (mung beans). This isn't too surprising; almost every culture has a combination like this, be it rice and beans, rice and tofu or bread and chickpeas. And for added flavor and protein, I also mixed in some pistachios.

I think the flavor would be even better using fresh pistachios. If you don't have pistachios, you could replace them with chickpeas (hummus) or hulled sesame seeds (tahini).

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on August 10, 2012.


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