The lovely Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Yes, I admit I have a thing for him and his cooking; I find that combination of posh, combined with down to earth practicality strangely sexy) comes up trumps again with this amazingly simple, yet complex wintry soup. The combination of roasted tomato, garlic, good meaty stock and salty feta cheese, produces an intensely rich (don’t have too much of it!) but totally satisfying lunch or supper dish. In fact it is so hearty that you really don’t even need bread with it. I ate mine accompanied by a simple salad made with the (very) last of the Moelyci tomatoes and baby cucumbers, some winter lettuce leaves, a couple of small peppers (diced) another crumble of feta cheese, some olives, a sprinkle of fresh herbs and a glug of good olive oil.
The soup recipe is:
3 to 4 apple sized beetroot
tablespoon olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
500ml good beef stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarians)
Roast tomato sauce (see below)*
a good crumble of feta cheese (125g or so)
salt and pepper
*Roast tomato sauce: 500g ripe tomatoes, 3 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss everything in a roasting tin and stick in the oven (gas mark 4, 180 degree C) for about 35 minutes until soft pulpy and starting to char a little. Push through a sieve to remove seeds and skin.
Peel and grate or dice beetroot (to avoid the unattractive purple hand look wear marigolds). Finely chop the onion and sweat gently in olive oil until just soft. Add beetroot, stock and season well. Bring to the boil and simmer until the beetroot is tender (about 10 minutes if grated, maybe a bit longer if diced). Add the prepared tomato sauce and blend until smooth. Check seasoning and serve with a good helping of feta crumbled over the top (and bread if you really want a bit extra). Eat by the side of a big roaring fire and you will feel warm from your nose to your toes!
PS. I have to warn you, eating this much beetroot does tend to have a strange side effect….I will let you find this out for yourselves)