I went on a tour of Polish cuisine with Ren Behan at modern Polish restaurant Malina in Brook Green. We ate until our bellies were swollen as the lovely staff kept bringing out more and more delicious food.
The highlight of the meal was definitely the starters. To begin I had a shot of lemon vodka to warm me up and then we were brought slices of rye bread and a pot of mysterious but tasty looking pate, which actually turned out to be pork fat. Sounds vaguely grim, but it definitely got my stomach in gear for deliciousness.
Next we had beautiful teacups of vivid beetroot soup, not stodgy and thick as you might imagine, but clear, velvety and full of flavour.
And as you can see pictured here, we indulged in a couple of plates of pierogi – traditional Polish dumplings which you can have with a variety of fillings. They were like delicate ravioli. We opted for cheese and potato along with bacon and buckwheat all topped with caramelised onions. Sooooo good, but left us far too full to finish our main courses or even attempt dessert. Next time!
So I came home determined to try and recreate the soup as we’re big fans of beetroot and grow lots of it down the allotment. I think the thing I loved the most about Malina’s soup was the consistency – smooth, clear and velvety.
So after a bit of a chat with Ren, I decided i’d try using the juice of raw beetroots to make the basis of the soup. To bring added flavour I sweated red onion, celery and garlic in olive oil, added vegetable stock and then the beetroot juice. The resulting broth was absolutely divine and very 5:2 diet friendly. Result!
I feel quite inclined to make more soup using my juicer… I think carrot would be brilliant done like this. Even Arlo tried a spoonful of the beetroot soup when I was eating it, and I reckon the smooth consistency could be a great way to encourage the boys away from the omnipresent violent orange tinned tomato soup.
makes 750ml or 2-3 servings
350g raw beetroot, cleaned and trimmed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 sticks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
500ml vegetable stock
1. Put the beetroot through your juicer and retain the beautiful red liquid in a jug and leave to one side.
2. In a large pan heat the oil and then over a gentle heat sweat the onions and celery with a pinch of salt and the lid on for a good 5 minutes until soft. Add the crushed garlic and sweat for a further minute.
3. Pour in the stock and beetroot juice and allow to simmer for 5-1o minutes. Cool a little and then blitz with a blender until totally smooth. Serve with toasted and buttered sourdough with goats cheese, or just on it’s own if you’re following the 5:2 diet!
Tip: If you don’t have a juicer you could peel and chop the beets and cook them in the vegetable stock and then blend and sieve it.