Before there was a baby or bills there were lots of vacations and other more frivolous ways that the husband and I spent our time and money.
One summer before we were married we went to Vail for a beautiful, outdoors-centric long weekend. I expected great hiking and scenic mountain views, but I didn’t expect such an exciting food scene: outdoor farmers markets, gourmet mountainside dinners and jalapenos roasted before my eyes, among other highlights.
But the absolute culinary highlight from our time in Vail was a Sunday evening dinner at Kelly Liken, from acclaimed chef Kelly Liken. Little did we know, the restaurant throws its menu out the window on Sundays and cooks a completely new menu based on whatever is fresh at the farmers market that morning. I don’t remember everything we ate, but I do remember that it was outstanding.As our appetizer that evening we ordered a roasted beet soup that was unlike anything I had ever tasted before. I was so enamored with the soup that the husband, in true Jewish New Yorker form, asked the waiter if he could get the recipe for us to take home.
I was mildly embarrassed at his pushy request, but a few minutes later the waiter came back with the recipe jotted down in pen on a paper napkin. I don’t have that napkin anymore, but I have made the recipe enough times that it is forever engrained in my memory. Not to mention it was a pretty exciting moment to get the recipe for such a special soup straight from the chef. I may have made a few adjustments along the way, but no matter — it still turns out great.
This soup can be served hot or cold, although I prefer it served warm with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt. The soup definitely requires patience since it has many steps to make it. But the result is so delicious it is worth the effort.
6 large beets or 8-10 small-medium beets
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 quart vegetable stock
1/3 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream or greek yogurt (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Scrub beets and wipe dry. Wrap each beet in tin foil and close tightly. Roast for at least one hour, or until beets are tender. Allow to cool enough to handle. Peel beets and chop into small pieces.
In a skillet heat olive oil and butter on medium heat. Saute onions and fresh thyme until the onions are translucent. Add garlic and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. Add beets and cook another 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove thyme.
Pour beet, onion and garlic mixture into a food processor fitted with a blade. Add 1 cup of vegetable broth to food processor. Pulse until completely smooth.
Put beet and onion mixture through a fine mesh sieve or food mill in batches. This will take time. Place beet liquid to pot and add vegetables broth and whisk together. Bring liquid to a simmer on medium heat.
After soup has cooked for 3-5 minutes and is starting to bubble, reduce heat to low-medium. Add heavy creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with sour cream or greek yogurt.