I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with beetroot. On one hand, beetroot risotto is one of the greatest things ever, on the other is that lingering taste that can only be described as earthy. Or to be less charitable, I made a beetroot and chocolate cake, and despite using half a tonne of chocolate and cream, it still tasted of soil.
It is the kind of vegetable that, to my mind, is healthy but dull - the twin of kale in being a joyless thing that healthy eating advocates bang on about, but I really can't stand, Or at least it takes a fair bit of effort to make it palatable. Of course, it's entirely possible that beetroot has the same effect on me that sprouts have on others - a chemical that renders if awful tasting to me whilst others don't suffer. (Scientists are telling me that this theory could be what they describe as 'utter tripe')
And yet, and yet, here I am, attempting the fourth soup recipe involving beetroot (and reading the old entries, I see I have rather belaboured the point about beetroot's eccentricities, so I won't malign the poor purple vegetable any more) but suffice to say that this Indian soup recipe, through some subtle alchemy of spices tastes amazing, and not a hint of the evil 'soil taste'*
So here at Soup HQ we have a rather small kitchen, mostly consisting of jars of spices of one kind or another, and it's a huge decision every time we think about investing in another kitchen gadget. "There's no room!" goes the cry. Which is why I still don't have a deep fat fryer despite recently discovering the joys of making my own chips. Another gadget that I still crave is a pressure cooker. If you have one, it would be prefect for this recipe, as it would cook the lentils and beetroot amazingly, but alas, until I open the West Wing of my kitchen and have room for more gadgets, I'll have to do this the old fashioned way - just boiling the heck out of the beetroot.
Also, be careful when blending the soup. It went everywhere when I deployed my stick blender and made the kitchen look like Halloween had arrived early...
Also, beware the side effects of eating too many beets...
*Some of you may be wondering, if I have such strong feelings about beetroot, why am I eating it? Well the simple answer is that we got some as part of our veg box delivery and I'll be damned if I'm going to let any vegetables go to waste. Apart from Kale...
100g Yellow Lentils
50g Tamarind Paste
4 Cloves Garlic
1tsp Dried Red Chili Flakes
1tsp Coriander Seeds
1tsp Cumin Seeds
1tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1tsp Mustard Seeds
Pinch of Asafoetida
1. Soak the lentils in water for 30 minutes. Roughly chop the Tamarind and put ina small bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 30 minutes too
2. Heat some oil in your soup pan. Add the Coriander Fenugreek and Cumin Seeds and Chili flakes, and fry gently for a minute or so, until they flavour the oil.
3. Wash and strain the soaked lentils and add these to the pan, along with the peeled and chopped beetroot and the peeled garlic cloves.
4. Remove the pulp from the tamarind and add the flavoured water to the pan
5. Add 1.2 litres of water, bring the soup to the boil and simmer on a high heat, covered, for 30 minutes, until the beetroot is cooked and softened. Remove the pan from the heat
6. Blend the soup until smooth. Return to the pan, reheat gently and adjust seasoning to taste
7. In another pan, heat 3tbsp of oil. Add the Asafoetida and mustard seeds and heat until the seeds start to pop. Stir the flaovoured oil into the soup and serve. Enjoy!