Words and images by Reagan.
I was totally uninspired this month because baby E seemed to be going through some sort of 8-month-old sleep regression, which meant no one in our house was sleeping well. I had no time to do anything between E’s handful of 30 minute naps and I really needed those brief quiet windows for a moment to chill and not think about anything *rubs eyes and pours fourth coffee of the day*.
Fortunately, I have the HPA gals to turn to and I whined to them about my lack of inspiration: I was thinking of falling back on a soup recipe I had filed away, even though with the current heat warning it is so not seasonally relevant. And as I typed my stream-of-conscience waaaaaah, I was like, “Hey! Cold soup!” I’m so glad I have these awesome ladies to talk at.
I thought this Strawberry, Elderflower and Champagne cold soup recipe from Bottle Green would be great to try since I have a bottle of their pomegranate & elderflower cordial on hand. Champagne in soup sounds delicious, non? I quite literally thought about it for weeks…and never made it. I even bought a bottle of prosecco.
So what was the hold up? Well, I have a personal rule that once something bubbly has been opened, it cannot be reclosed. Because flat champagne? Gross. Must be drunk. Not as lush as it sounds, it just means I need to drink the bubbly with friends, ensuring that it gets deliciously consumed before it loses its oomph. Sadly, these days, the only time I have the energy to make anything is during the day, while E is sleeping and all my bubbly-sharing buddies are at work. By the time the evening rolls around, I’m too wiped. So if I crack that prosecco at 2pm, there’s only little E to share it with and she’s still a few years shy of splitting a bottle with her mom.
Anyway, continuing to crave the cold soup, a little more searching led to Martha Stewart’s recipe for Sweet Red Pepper-Beet Soup. Now this was something I could handle, what with red peppers and beets being two of my all-time favourite veggies. (Sidebar: there are a TON of cold soup recipes involving fruit that look delicious. But I have a hard time seeing these as anything more than a smoothie in a bowl. Also, Martha Stewart has 51 cold soup recipes).
Being who I am, I couldn’t follow the recipe exactly, although I stuck very close. The only real modification was to roast the beets and red peppers rather than boil them in the chicken stock. I adore roasted vegetables and this step adds a nice layer to the soup as roasting draws the natural sugars out of the veg. I cut the beets and peppers in ½ to 1 inch chunks, tossed with olive oil and roast for about 20 minutes at 400°F. After that, I followed the recipe more or less as directed, sauteeing the shallots, adding the chicken stock and finally, throwing the roasted veg into the mix. I simmered it for less time (about 30 minutes) as the vegetables were already cooked when they went into the stock. Also, I added waaaaay more goat cheese to my bowl because, well, why not?
Verdict? Awesome! The first bowl, consumed as soon as it was cool enough was good. But the second bowl the next day, after the flavours had settled in a bit…SO DELICIOUS! I will definitely make this again. Martha Stewart’s original recipe for…
Sweet Red Pepper-Beet Soup
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots, chopped (1/2 cup)
- 3 red bell peppers (1 1/2 pounds), stems, ribs, and seeds removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 red beets (1 pound), trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 cup water
- 3 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are translucent and tender, about 4 minutes. Add bell peppers and beets, and stir to coat. Add water and chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Cover partially, and reduce heat. Simmer until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour.
- Remove saucepan from heat, and let cool slightly. Stir in lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Working in batches, puree mixture in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl, and refrigerate until chilled, up to overnight.
- Divide soup evenly among 6 to 8 bowls. Sprinkle each with goat cheese. Season with pepper, and serve with lemon wedges.
By the way, at the time of this posting, E simultaneously sprouted both bottom teeth, explaining the complete falling apart of her sleep patterns. Here’s hoping for a better rested, more productive next month.Add to favorites