This spring, one of Bouchon’s nightly specials was golden beet puree. Paired with a dry chardonnay, it was a delicious first course and made me wonder where this vegetable had been all my life. The last time I had beet soup was in Poland, after a terrible river raft trip in the pouring rain and my feet were so cold I wasn’t paying any attention to what the borscht tasted like, just that it was warm.
Beets aren’t very common in my kitchen (and I’d be willing to bet most kitchens), so this soup will be unexpected for anyone who tries it. The flavors blend together so well you just swallow a big spoonful and smile. The cool mascarpone with a hint of onion flavor from the chives is a beautiful combination, and when lingered over a glass of wine, makes for an exceptional light dinner (we had an arugula salad with goat cheese alongside) or first course of Thanksgiving or other autumnal dinner party.
It tasted almost identical to what we had in the restaurant, but Andrew thought they might have used pumpkin instead of butternut squash. Next time I make this I’ll use pumpkin instead and see which version we prefer, but considering that I recreated this dish from our favorite restaurant using only my taste buds and an immersion blender, I’m very, very proud.
Golden Beet Soup with Mascarpone Chive Cream
There are many ways to garnish this soup. I remained true to the original soup I tried, but you could also make pesto with the beet greens, use goat cheese, or fried sage leaves.
Wine pairing: Rusack 2007 Chardonnay
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
6 golden beets (skin on, trimmed at the stem and leaves removed)
1/2 of 1 medium butternut squash, seeds removed
1 large onion, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
Zest of one lemon, plus additional juice to taste
4 cups chicken stock
1 to 2 tsps. cider vinegar
Mascarpone and chive cream (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle squash with olive oil and salt and set on a lined baking sheet. Wrap each beet in foil (this will make the skin easier to remove) and place on the same baking sheet. Roast vegetables for 40-45 minutes until fork tender. Let cool slightly, then gently peel the skin off each beet under running water. Slice in quarters and reserve in a medium bowl. Scoop out the butternut squash from its skin and add it to the bowl with the beets.
In a large stockpot, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, garlic and cook for about five minutes, until vegetables begin to soften. Add beets and butternut squash and stir to combine. Add chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.
Puree soup with an immersion blender. Add cider vinegar and butter to soup and thin with more broth, if desired. Add lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.
For the Mascarpone chive cream, add chopped chives to 1/4 cup Mascarpone and stir to combine. Season with a bit of salt. Dollop a small spoonful into each bowl and serve.