Not a single industry has gone untouched by this pandemic. Buying locally to support small family businesses has never been so important. By purchasing ingredients from local farmers and processors, you strengthen Canadian food security and can make a real difference in the lives of your neighbors. Perhaps you may make new friends along the way, too.
Next time you shop at your local grocery store or farmers market, try and pick up some seasonal red beets for this delicious beet soup recipe! Learn more about how COVID-19 has affected Canada’s agriculture industry by checking out our stories page.
Beets are a root vegetable that is popular in many parts of the world, including Canada. Historically, the leaves and stems were used for culinary purposes. The root, however, was typically used as a medicine and believed to cure a variety of ailments. Since beets are a good source of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants, they make a healthy addition to a balanced diet. Research on beets indicate that they have, potentially, a range of benefits that include:
- Fighting inflammation
- Providing antioxidant effects
- Improving heart health
- Promoting digestive health
- Boosting brain health
- And even improving athletic performance!
Generally perceived to taste like a freshly plowed field, the earthy taste of beets comes from a compound produced by soil microbes called geosmin. Break this compound down by pre-boiling the vegetable before peeling; as that is where most of the geosmin is found. Properly cooking the beets brings out its best flavors. In this beet soup recipe, the delectable beet is combined with some sweet potato, garlic, ginger, and onion. These aromatic ingredients complement the earthy and sweet taste of the beet perfectly!
As a cool-season crop, beets are perfect to grow in Canada and can even grow in shaded areas. When selecting beets at your local grocery store, look for smooth, hard, and round beets that are unbruised. The stems should be slender, and the leaves should be dark green and crisp; beets can stay fresh in the fridge for up to 10 days. When eaten fresh they have a wonderfully sweet floral flavour that is highlighted in this beet soup recipe.
A simple, sweet and savory, well-balanced beet soup for lunch is sure to boost your energy for the rest of the day. You can paired this beet soup with your favorite sandwich to round out the meal.
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 50 min
- 6 Red Beet Bulbs
- 1 Medium Sweet Potato
- 8 Cups Vegetable Stock (Bought or Homemade)
- 1 Small onion
- Oil for roasting – Preferable: non-extra virgin olive oil, sunflower seed oil, avocado oil, vegetable oil
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 Cloves of garlic
- 1 Tablespoon freshly chopped ginger
- 1 Lemon
- 1 Cup Coconut Milk or Canadian Yogurt
- 2 Sprigs of Thyme
- 2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Salt to taste
- Baking tray
- Parchment paper
- Large Pot
- Mixing bowl
Part 1 – Roasting the Beets – Check out Gwillimdale Farms in Bradford, Ont. for delicious red beets!
- Preheat oven to 400 F (204 C)
- Wash and Parboil the beets with the skin on for 20-30 seconds to reduce geosmin on the surface. Then, run the beets under cold water
- Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the beet skin.
- To prevent stains by rub a small amount of oil on the cutting board surface
- Slice beets into thin slices 2-3mm in thickness, this allows the beets to roast faster in the oven.
- In a large salad bowl – toss the beets in oil meant for roasting.
- Spread the beets out on a parchment paper-lined large baking tray.
- Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the edges begin to caramelize. By roasting the beets the flavors of the beet soup are amplified.
Part 2 – Preparing the Sweet Potato – Check out Berlo’s Best in Simcoe, Ont. is the largest sweet potato producer in Canada
Sweet potatoes are hard to get right! Sometimes they are super sweet, other times, they are starchy and bland. This is because of how you prepare them. Sweet potatoes contain an enzyme that breaks down starch into sugar. In order to get the best conversion of starch by amylase, start by soaking them in 70 C water for 1 hour before cooking. 70 C is the perfect temperature for amylase activity; too hot and it breaks down, too cold and it deactivates.
- Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to peel the skin off the sweet potato.
- Cut the sweet potato into small squares that are about 1cm in size. The cutting method is not important as all ingredients will be blended together.
- Using an instant-thermometer, heat water to around 70 C. Remove the pot from heat and submerge the sweet potato into the water. Cover for 1 hour.
- When ready, place the pot of sweet potato on the stove and boil on medium heat until the sweet potato is soft.
- Drain the water using a strainer and place it to the side.
Part 3 – Preparing the Onion, Garlic, and Ginger – Check out the Canadian Ginger Company in Fisherville, Ontario
- Chop the onions, garlic, and ginger into similarly sized pieces
- The cutting method is not important as all ingredients will be blended later on
- Place the ingredients into a small bowl and leave for later.
Part 4 – Preparing the Stock (Vegetable or Meat) – Check out your local Butcher Shop for great advice on meat cuts for stock. Vegetable stock gives the beet soup a lighter taste; delicious nonetheless!
- Homemade stock – can be used for this recipe. (Tastes the best)
- Dry stock or premade stock – if you do not have homemade stock
- To prepare dry stock, follow the instructions on the package.
Part 5 – Putting it All Together
- Cover the bottom of a large soup pot with 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil.
- Heat the pot on a medium-low temperature and add onions, garlic, ginger, and thyme sprigs. Cook until the ingredients caramelize. A medium-low temperature is best to maintain the flavor of your aromatics. Stir. When ready, remove thyme sprigs from the pot.
- Add the roasted beets and sweet potato to the pot and mix.
- Add 8 cups of vegetable or meat stock. Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring the ingredients to a boil. Add lemon juice by squeezing half a lemon into the pot.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and allow the soup to simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and carefully place the content of the pot into a blender. If the blender is not large enough then blend in multiple portions. An immersion blender works best.
- Blend the ingredients until liquid and transfer into a large serving bowl.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve in a soup bowl with coconut milk or Canadian Yogurt on the side.
Linked Beet Producers:
Check out our previous In-Season Recipe – Roasted Fennel and Garlic Carbonara:
Farmwork to Feed Canada (F2FC) is a national volunteer not-for-profit initiative by Canadian communication professionals, students, and recent graduates in communications. F2FC collaborates with farmers, and agri-businesses amid COVID-19 pandemic-related challenges to Canada’s food supply and food security, to engage Canadians, pro bono, with compelling stories about their food system and build support for Canada’s farmers, food producers, and their essential skilled workers.