If you’ve got golden beets and carrots, try this summer soup and let a few fresh ingredients shine.
On Sunday afternoon I drove down to Ballard, just before the farmer’s market was due to close. I had cut it close. Returning from a long weekend on San Juan Island, I was at the mercy of the ferry schedule and the usual traffic slowdowns driving south from Anacortes toward home. But I still had a few minutes to spare when I tucked my car into a tiny parking spot and made my way through the crowds.
It was one of those spectacular Seattle summer days of golden sunshine and soft winds. The farmer’s market was a beautiful place to be–filled with good smells, bursts of excited laughter and conversation, and gorgeous fruits, vegetables, flowers, and a thousand other eye-catching products.
At the Oxbow Farm stand, I picked up the cardboard box that awaited me. This was their “small share” CSA box.
I have long been an admiring bystander to the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) concept, in which customers subscribe for the season and receive a weekly share in the farm’s produce. I have never been a member of a CSA myself, as I usually grow a good percentage of my own vegetables. This summer however, my garden mostly lays fallow. So I happily hefted my box and wove my way back out of the market with this treasure.
Back home, I opened up the box to investigate the contents. There were carrots, kale, zucchini, golden beets, onions, radicchio, Jericho romaine and Lolo Rossa lettuce. I washed all of the greens, put them through the salad spinner, and stored them in large bowls in the refrigerator. All week I would have lunch salads created from this bounty of crisp lettuce.
I surveyed the rest of the produce with satisfaction. This is how I like to cook. Start with fresh, seasonal ingredients, then find the recipe to fit.
I stared hard at the beets for a while. All of my life, I have disliked beets. From the sickly sweet canned pickled beets of my childhood to the pretty diced fresh beets that adorn summer salads. I should like beets so much more than I do. They are as beautiful as a pile of jewels on a salad plate. And I’m a lover of all things earthy and umami. So every now and then I ask for a bite, as a friend sighs happily over a plate of beets. And every time, I nibble, wrinkle my nose, and say “Nope. I still hate them.” I keep waiting.
I continued my narrow-eyed staring contest with the beets until an idea began to form in my mind. I like borscht. Maybe soup was the proper way to subjugate beets. A summer soup that isn’t too complex or spicy. A soup that showcases the bright colors of summer produce. I started peeling and dicing.
And the results? This beet and carrot soup was an unqualified success. The beets were indeed tamed. A little sweet, a little earthy. Good hot or cold. A perfect first course for your next dinner party on the patio—after the first glass of crisp white wine and before the salmon, steaks, or vegetables come off the grill.
Golden Summer Soup
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- 4 cups water
- 4 medium golden beets, peeled and diced (about 3 cups) *save beet greens for another use
- 4 large carrots, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
- 1 tbsp golden miso paste
Over medium heat, sauté onions in olive oil until transparent—be careful not to let them get brown. In a stockpot, combine water, beets, carrots, and onion. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add miso, and simmer 1-2 more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Using immersion blender (or regular blender) blend until about half pureed—there should still be some chunks of carrot and beet.
Serve hot or cold, with a sprinkle of za’atar, or dill, or finely minced chives, and a dollop of goat cheese.
Next: What to do with those beet greens?
Oxbow Farm provided a complimentary box of produce in exchange for cooking from it and blogging about my experience.