Beetroot Gazpacho

As you may have inferred from my last few posts- it is getting uncomfortably warm in these parts. Just really, really still, dry heat; the kind that drains you and makes you want to jump into a pool any chance you get. Hence, I feel the need to consume lots of coconut water and lime juice and prepare meals which are light on the stomach and cold on the tongue.

Salads are great, and I do love them- but the heat called for something really, really  cold; and a chilled soup seemed like a better option. Plus, sometimes it’s nice to take the easy route and make a blender do a bulk of the work. 😀

I’ve never made a gazpacho before, even though I’ve watched it being made on television, listened to podcasts outlining the perfect gazpacho, and saved numerous recipes to my Evernote. I haven’t attempted any of those, so in some ways, this is my “gateway” gazpacho.

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I decided to make this because I didn’t have any bread for a regular gazpacho, but I had a pair of beets. I always have beets in my fridge. You’d think that the one constant ingredient in my fridge would be eggs or bread or limes or herbs, but in my case, it’s beets. I buy them each week, so there’s always a spare beet nestled somewhere in the crisper, patiently waiting it’s turn as the kale, spinach, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes make their way to our plates first.

When it comes to vegetables that are always stocked in my kitchen, the list looks something like this:

  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Beets

Potatoes-onions-tomatoes are a must in any Indian kitchen. My son loves cucumbers and eats a plateful of sliced cucumbers everyday with salt and pepper, so there must always be a handful in the crisper. And beetroots are great because they stay well (they don’t seem to spoil as easily as other vegetables,) plus, they are so cheap year-round. And  they are so, so good for you! I can make them Kerala-style, as a thoran or pachadi; I can roast them whole, boil them and pour some brown butter over for a warm salad- beets are a very versatile vegetable. And great for juicing, too!

So, continuing with my no-cook theme, I zoned in on the beetroot gazpacho recipe from Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals. Except there was some cooking involved- I parboiled the beetroot. My blender is a regular one, not a Vitamix, and I don’t own a food processor either, so I wasn’t sure how well raw beets would break down. Other than the boiling, all you do is blitz the stuff you see above in a food processor or blender and push it through a sieve. I swapped the sherry vinegar in the original recipe for balsamic- because that’s what I had. And since the soup is a deep purple anyway, the balsamic doesn’t discolour it, just adds a really nice depth of flavour.This soup is refreshing with a nice, bright flavour- no single ingredient overpowers, it all comes together to make a nice, mellow cool spoonful.

I finished mine with a touch more acid- some lemon- and a pinch of pink Himalayan salt, because I got a phancy little box with assorted salts. And why not add some pink on top of purple?

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BEETROOT GAZPACHO (Adapted from Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals)

INGREDIENTS

  • 300 g beetroot
  • 500 g cherry tomatoes
  • 100 g cucumber, skin removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • A squeeze of lime
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

METHOD

  • Peel the beetroot and plunge into boiling water. Cook for a few minutes until tender; a knife should be able to go through easily but not all the way through.
  • Allow the beetroot to cool, then roughly chop it.
  • Combine the beetroot, cucumber, red pepper, cherry tomatoes and garlic in a food processor or blender and blitz for a few minutes until smooth. Add a little cold water if necessary to make it all come together. (I had to as my blender isn’t very powerful.)
  • Pour the puree through a sieve set atop a large bowl. Press down against the mixture with the back of a spoon to get all the liquid through.
  • Stir in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Serve chilled, with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of salt and pepper on top.

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Roasted Tomato & Lentil Soup

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I’ll admit I have a short temper. Sometimes it’s with an applicance that doesn’t work. Sometimes it’s triggered by muddy shoe tracks around the house. Sometimes by my son, who is being his 3-yr-old self but making a mess and racket while doing so. I try to work on it as much as I can- but there are times when I blow my fuse.

Cooking and being in the kitchen, however, makes me forget whatever it was that made me angry. I’m happy to toss a salad. Shake some vinaigrette together. Chop some onions into half-moons, dice tomatoes and slice cucumbers. And if my son has been punished, then a snack is what is produced as a peace offering.

Happy as I am to prep, chop, cook and stir, there are days when I take the lazy route- that is, cooking without having to stand over the stove for too long. For me, lazy cooking is about chopping some vegetables, roasting them in the oven, and tossing them with pasta, creating a salad, or blitzing everything into a soup.

The great thing about roasting veggies in the oven is that the oven does all the work for you…the natural sugars come alive, the juices come out and the vegetables just dress themselves, absorbing all the lovely flavours of the herbs and oil.

 

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If you think garlic sautéing in butter/olive oil is one of the nicest (savoury) aromas, think again. Tomatoes and peppers roasting in the oven with rosemary is an aroma that can make any stomach growl. Ever since I tried Clara’s blistered cherry tomatoes, I’ve had a weakness for roasting tomatoes in the oven- big and small. I agree, cherry tomatoes look prettier when roasted and paired with pasta or a topping for a tartine, but when you are roasting tomatoes for a soup, it doesn’t matter. I also found these red chillies in the market earlier this week, and was a little undecided about what to do with them.

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Anita suggested pickling them, which I intend to do, but I was impatient to get cooking with them, so I slit, de-veined and de-seeded them, tossed them with chopped tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, thyme and crushed pepper, and put everything in a 200 degree oven for 40 minutes, with a gentle toss and massage after 20 mins.

Once done, I blitzed everything in a blender with a little water, and added the mix to a pot of simmering lentils- dinner is done.

ROASTED TOMATO & LENTIL SOUP

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 medium tomatoes, halved
  • 2 medium red chilli peppers, halved, deveined and de-seeded
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary, fresh or dried
  • A good grinding of black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup red lentils or husked masoor dal
  • Water for boiling

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 200 C.
  • Place the tomatoes, peppers and garlic in a roasting tray/baking dish and toss with the olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper till well coated.
  • Place in the oven for 40 minutes, checking on them after 20 mins and giving everything a quick toss.
  • Once cool, place everything in a blender and blend, adding a little water, till smooth.
  • Place lentils in a large pot and add enough water to cover. Simmer on medium-low heat until lentils are tender, skimming off the foam at the top periodically. Once the lentils are tender, add in the tomato-pepper puree and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes more. Add more water or vegetable stock if necessary.
  • Season with more salt and pepper if you wish, and drizzle some olive oil over the top before serving.

Quick, Light Dinner On A Busy Day: Kidney Bean Soup | Vegan Soup Recipe

For the past 3 weeks my husband and I have been on an experimental regimen. Oatmeal or smoothies for breakfast, regular lunch and lighter dinners, usually salad/soup/stir fry/baked fish and chicken. We decided to keep all the heavy-duty eating for the weekend, and stick to simpler stuff during the week.

Ok I’ll stop trying to fluff it up, basically both of us realized we were spending too much time gorging in front of the TV and now we’re getting our act together, exercising regularly and eating better.

I have been using lentils and beans as a base for salad and soup, and kidney beans are great for soup because of their velvety texture. I am a sucker for rajma-chawal, and sometimes I have rajma from a bowl, just like soup, with some grated cheese on top. But since the purpose was to eat kidney beans in a healthier fashion, I made a soup, pairing the beans with vegetables and less spice.

This is one of those recipes I just made on the fly, combining whatever vegetables I had on hand and using very few spices- just cumin and paprika. Cumin for that nutty flavour and paprika for heat.

If you do some weekend prep and cook your kidney beans ahead, this is a simple meal you can get home and make after work on a weekday. Just throw everything in and let it simmer; by the time you unwind and freshen up it’s done!

A little grated cheese on top = wonderful.
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KIDNEY BEAN AND VEGETABLE SOUP

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup kidney beans, cooked and drained
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika powder (optional)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  •  1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 stick celery, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 700 ml vegetable stock (if you don’t want to keep it vegan use chicken or beef stock)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

METHOD

  • Heat the oil in a large pot. When oil becomes hot, add the garlic and allow it to soften a little.
  • Next, add the cumin and paprika powder and stir gently till the raw smell of the cumin powder disappears.
  • Now add the diced veggies and sweat them out a little, 2-3 minutes, allowing them to release their aroma and soften.
  • Add the kidney beans and stir fry for a minute or two.
  • Add the stock, season with salt and pepper and turn the heat to medium-low; simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through to your liking.

How do you like preparing kidney beans?