Whether you roast it whole, blend into a classic soup or drink as juice like the Olympians do – beetroot is low in fat, full of vitamins and minerals and packed with powerful antioxidants – a health-food titan.
Belonging to the same family as chard and spinach, both the leaves and root can be eaten – the leaves have a bitter taste whereas the round root is sweet. Typically a rich purple colour, beetroot can also be white or golden. Due to its high sugar content, beetroot is delicious eaten raw but is more typically cooked or pickled.
Good quality, fresh beetroots should have their greens intact. The greens should be fresh-looking with no signs of spoilage. The beetroot should be firm, smooth, and a vibrant red-purple, not soft, wrinkled or dull in colour. Fresh beets with the greens attached can be stored for three to four days in the fridge, but beets with the greens removed can be stored in the fridge for two to four weeks. Raw beets do not freeze well since they tend to become soft on thawing. Freezing cooked beetroot is fine as it retains its flavour and texture.
Why not try this delicious recipe for a wonderfully vibrant soup!
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large carrot, diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
3 medium sized beetroots (around 450g/1lb unpeeled weight), peeled and diced
1 large waxy potato, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1½ litres/2½ pints good quality beef stock
½ purple cabbage, finely shredded
2 tomatoes, skinned, cored and chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp finely chopped dill
Heat the vegetable oil and butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Once melted add the carrot, celery and onion and cook gently for a few minutes. Add the beetroot, potato and garlic. Fry for a couple of minutes, until well coated and combined.
Add the stock and season with salt and black pepper. Bring to just below the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the cabbage and tomatoes. Cover and leave to simmer for a further 20 minutes.
Serve the soup with dollops of sour cream and a sprinkling of dill.
This could easily be turned into a vegetarian dish, by using a mixture of vegetable stock and liquor from soaking dried mushrooms. You wouldn’t need much dried mushrooms, just around 15g/½oz to add flavour, and they would just need to be finely chopped before adding to the soup at the same time as the cabbage.