Beautiful soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
I’m in New York this week, visiting my sister, and it’s difficult to believe that it’s technically autumn. The sun is bright and hot, and the city is uncomfortably muggy; it feels as if summer is still very much here. In my heart, late September screams soup and thick slices of generously buttered toast, endless cups of tea, and an eager anticipation of the sight of the first leaves turning. But it is difficult to pretend I am complaining - New York is beautiful, my sister is the perfect travel companion, and the warm days become balmy nights filled with tacos, belting out show tunes in piano bars, and enjoying slow sunsets while sipping cocktails.
Next week (far too soon for my liking) we’re London-bound. The Little Library Year is out in seven days, and I have a launch party to cater: this time next week I’ll be standing in a bookshop with everyone who contributed so much to this second collection of recipes and stories and seasonal memories. Someone will be pouring wine, and I’ll be pushing sausage rolls and chicken sandwiches and brownies on my pals. By next Friday, I’ll be in need of a bowl of something warming and comforting, back home in the Cotswolds.
And so, this soup is one for this week, served chilled on our balcony in Brooklyn, and for next week too, once my family and I are at home in my flat. Delicious both cold or hot, it is the most pleasingly rich and warm pink - a true aesthetic joy. Eat it with dark rye bread, or a slice of chewy sourdough. And, while you’re enjoying it, maybe pre-order my book?
Spiced beetroot soup
2 large carrots
2 waxy potatoes
5 whole beetroot
2 medium brown onions
A thumb-sized piece of ginger
1tbsp groundnut oil
1tsp mustard seeds
Salt and black pepper
Crème fraîche/sour cream
1. Scrub the carrots, potatoes, and beetroot, and peel the onions and ginger. Dice the vegetables into roughly even pieces.
2. Warm the oil in a saucepan, and tip in the vegetables. Add the mustard seeds and seasoning. Cook for 5 minutes.
3. Add 600ml water, and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Remove from the heat, allow to cool a little, then blitz to a smooth purée in a blender or with a stab mixer.
4. Warm through (or chill completely – it works cold too), and serve with crème fraîche and dill.