The Sweet Beet
Golden Beet Vichyssoise with Dill
3/4 pound golden beets, trimmed and scrubbed
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 of a large white onion, diced
2 small leeks, washed and sliced (white and light green parts)
1 medium russet potato - about 3/4 pound - peeled and sliced
4 cups chicken broth
freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 cup light cream
piment d’esplette, optional
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place beets on a large sheet of aluminum foil; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Wrap them tightly and roast for about 1 hour, then test them with a sharp paring knife. The knife should slide into the middle of the beet with ease. Remove beets from the oven and let cool until you are able to hold them. Slip off their skins, then quarter and slice them. Set them aside.
Melt butter in a 4-quart stockpot; add onion and leeks, and cook over low-to-moderate heat until they are softened and clear. Do not brown them.
Add potatoes, reserved beets, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes until potatoes are very tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Purée soup in batches using a blender; in one of the batches, add the dill all at once. Once puréed, pour soup into a glass or ceramic bowl. Add the light cream and stir to mix in cream and distribute the dill evenly. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Serve the soup in chilled bowls sprinkled with piment d’esplette, if desired.
Notes: Roasting the beets concentrates the sugars and gives them a deeper, richer flavor. If you don't want to heat up the oven, you can simply peel and slice the beets and cook them with the potatoes. Red beets will yeild a spectacular pink soup.