And the Beet Goes On
Roasted Beet Soup with Dukkah, Yogurt, and Black Currant

Serves 2 to 3

I add beets to salads all the time. A couple of years ago, I celebrated my birthday in Bath, England, with my daughter Nicole and son Ben at Acorn, a renowned vegetarian restaurant.

Ben’s earthy roasted beet salad with cassis sorbet was seasoned with dukkah, an Egyptian seasoning (see the sidebar). It inspired this soup. Instead of the sorbet, I made a currant gastrique-like drizzle and added yogurt. The recipe is easily doubled.


1 tablespoon dukkah (see the sidebar)
3 medium beets, scrubbed and trimmed
2 tablespoons fragrant extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small onion, chopped (1/3 cup)
2–2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 small shallot, sliced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons black or red currant jelly
2 tablespoons water
2–3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Prepare the dukkah and set aside.
  3. On a large square of aluminum foil, brush the beets with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and tightly wrap to seal. Place on a baking sheet or in a flat pan and roast until completely tender when pricked with the tip of a knife, at least 50–60 minutes. Remove, cool, peel, and roughly chop. You should have just under 2 cups.
  4. In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over low heat, add the onion, partially cover, and sweat until softened and just starting to color, about 5 minutes. Scrape into the jar of an electric blender along with the puréed beets, stock, and 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil; purée until smooth. Transfer to a medium-size saucepan, add the orange juice; heat until hot.
  5. Meanwhile, make the gastrique. In the same skillet, add the remaining oil and shallot and sauté over low heat until softened and lightly colored. Combine the shallot with the 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, the currant jelly, and water in a 2-cup glass measure and microwave on high until the mixture has reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Remove and strain.
  6. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, add a dollop of yogurt, sprinkle the dukkah around it, and drizzle on the currant gastrique.


SIDEBAR: Delights of Dukkah

My friends Sarah and Glenn Collins are world travelers, and we delight in sharing our culinary purchases with one another. After exploring Egypt’s Nile Valley some years ago, Sarah gave me a bag of dukkah, a term derived from a word that means “to crush.” In this case, it refers to seeds and nuts. I’ve used it as a topping for many soups, combined with olive oil as a dip for bread, and brushed on fish and chicken. Thanks, Sarah!

Dukkah

You can make dukkah with pistachios, hazelnuts, and even almonds. Use the freshest spices available and store extras in a small, airtight container. If your nuts are unsalted, add a pinch of salt to the mixture.

1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper or crushed black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped pistachios, lightly toasted (2 ounces)
Salt, if nuts are unsalted

In a small skillet, toast the sesame seeds, black pepper, and fennel over medium-high heat until fragrant and the seeds are pale golden, 2–3 minutes, shaking the pan often. Sprinkle in the coriander and cumin, cook for 30 seconds, then quickly scrape into a small bowl along with the pistachios and salt and let cool. Using a mortar and pestle or a clean coffee grinder, grind the mixture into a coarse-textured powder.


From my Soup for Two: Small-Batch Recipes for One, Two or a Few