The past couple of weeks in Toronto have been frigidly cold, scattered with mild humid days that end up chilling us right to the bone. What is better than coming in from a blustery day to a warm and steaming bowl of soup? Not much! This Beet and Lime soup is zesty and fragrant and wonderful for your digestive tract and heart. It also boasts some strong immune system boosters (but I won’t delve too deeply into those as next week’s recipe is ALL about protecting yourself at the peak of flu season). Beets are another one of my favorite ingredients for cooking and baking because they are so versatile. I shred them for salads, I juice them and use them in smoothies and they are absolutely delicious when oven roasted. In that form they can be used to create so many incredible meals or elements of a meal, like soup!
The pigments that give beets their rich colours are called betalains, which function both as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. As you may have learnt from last week’s post (Raw Vegan Truffles), an antioxidant rich diet is crucial for maintaining good health and prevention of degenerative diseases. The betalains pigments in beets are also known to support detoxification in the body by gathering active and unwanted toxic chemicals and attaching them to small nutrient groups. They then neutralize, thus making them sufficiently water-soluble, which means we can they excrete them in our urine.
A more commonly known health benefit of the beet is its high fibre content. This means that they are a wonderful food to consume when having digestive issues that may result in constipation. The very specific type of fibre in beets (also found in carrots) is becoming well known for its colon cancer fighting properties.
The nutrients in beets are best delivered in their raw state, as cooking significantly reduces many of their health benefits. Shredding beets for salads or using beets for juices are definitely your best bet. If you decide to cook your beets, make sure not to overcook. A general guideline would be to steam them for no longer than 15 minutes or roast them for no longer than 60 minutes.
That being said, turn your ovens to 400!
Beet & Lime Soup with Cilantro Puree
4 cups of low sodium vegetable broth
5 medium sized beets (roasted and peeled)
3 carrots (chopped)
1 small onion (chopped)
1 clove of garlic (minced)
1 can of coconut milk
1.5 tsp. of ground coriander
2.5 tbsp. of chopped fresh ginger
zest and juice of 1 lime
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil for pan
*A useful tip in handeling beets: coat your hands with olive oil before cutting or peeling, this will help to ensure your hands don't turn pink!
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, while heating, wash and prep your beets. If they still have their stems and leaves, remove them, otherwise leave the skins on and cut in half length wise. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and wrap in tin foil on a cookie sheet. Roast your beets for about 50 minutes. Let cool before peeling their skins away (the skins should rub off easily with your thumb if cooked properly).
In a large pot on medium high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and sautee the onion, garlic and carrots. Once the onions are transparents and the carrots begein to soften slightly, pour in the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add ground corriander, ginger, salt, pepper, lime zest and lime juice. Cover and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Puree the roasted beets in a food processor until completely smooth. Add the coconut milk and the broth mixture to the food processor along with the beets and puree again to combine everything.
You can stop here and enjoy the soup as is, however, I like whipping up a cilantro puree for visual contrast and to add another layer of flavor.
½ cup of fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. of hummus (home made is always best!)
1.5 tbsp. of olive oil
Add these ingredients to a blender or food processor on high until liquefied. Spoon a swirl onto the top of each bowl to create a beautiful punch of colour!
Photos by Danielle Matar