Beets, tarragon and olive oil are a beautiful culinary combination according to the Vegetarian Bible, and it’s proven to be true in this delicious and beautiful bowl of soup!
Just like you can turn the volume up or down when you’re listening to a song on the radio, you can also do so with recipes. Yes, I’m talking about quiet and loud. Want to quiet down a recipe? Use tofu. Make it louder? Bring on the wasabi. Get it?
This is just one of the ways that the renowned Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg use to match flavors in their newest book, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. This is not a recipe book, rather it’s a book that profiles hundreds of foods from açaí to zucchini, including vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Each ingredient is profiled with its flavor description, season, botanical relatives, possible cooking techniques, substitutions, pairings, nutritional information, and serving suggestions. And it does all of this is a super organized fashion that easy to follow. What more could you want!?
I’ve been reading books by the James Beard Award winning Karen and Andrew since 1996 when I was given Culinary Artistry and Becoming a Chef. I was thrilled to be invited to this book signing at Melissa’s Produce to meet Karen and Andrew and listen to what was an incredibly delightful and educational presentation about their book, and what led to its creation. (You can read all about their fascinating journey to vegetarianism in the introduction in the book.)
As always, Melissa’s did a superb job presenting their beautiful produce!
During the presentation, Karen and Andrew told us about the best butternut squash soup they’d ever had. Why was it so amazing? Two main reasons:
- Butternut squash stock was used instead of a typical vegetable stock — one that includes the use of a variety of vegetables, or a meat stock. (The butternut squash stock intensifies the squash flavor, while vegetable or meat stocks are not only stronger , but have additional, and potentially distracting, flavors.)
- The omission of cream, which while delicious, takes away from the flavor of the squash.
And this was not about trying to make a vegan soup — as Karen put it, it was “veganism in the name of gastronomy!”
So what do I do? I think about one of my favorite vegetables, and certainly one of the most gorgeous — beets. I wanted to make a soup that Karen and Andrew might think is the best beet soup they’d ever had.
So I used the butternut squash soup they talked about as a guideline, using beet stock and no cream. Then I looked under beets in The Vegetarian Flavor Bible for additional tips. One of the many “flavor affinities” they listed was beets + garlic + olive oil + tarragon. And off I went. (The result: amazing!)
If you love to cook (or even just eat!), vegetarian or not, you’ll adore The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. (I should know — I love to cook and eat, and I’m not a vegetarian.)
This is not a sponsored posts and as always, all opinions are my own.
- 2- pounds fresh beets with their greens intact about 4 large beets
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 cup roughly chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Remove the greens from 3 of the beets, wash them thoroughly and tear them in half. Add them to a large stock pot and pour enough water over them to cover, about 3 quarts.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer the stock for 45 minutes. Strain into a couple of large pitchers or bowls and set aside. (It will be a yellow/green/brown color -- not pink like the beets.)
- Slice off the root and tip ends of the beets, peel them, and roughly chop them into into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. (The pink stain will go away within an hour or so, but if f you don't want your hands to stain, wear kitchen gloves.)
- In the same stock pot, over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the onions and garlic. Let this cook, stirring a bit, until the onions are soft, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add the tarragon and stir. Once it's very aromatic, after about 30 seconds, add the chopped beets and cook, stirring a bit, for about 5 minutes.
- Pour in 6 cups of the beet stock. (Save the rest for another soup!) Bring it to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the beets are very tender, about 45 minutes.
- In two batches, pour the mixture into a very powerful blender and purée until it's as smooth as possible.
- Pour the puréed soup back into the pot and season generously to taste with salt and pepper, and gently stir in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. (Here's How to Season to Taste.)
THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED – Congratulations Stephanie!