1/2 pound red beets (about 3 medium)*
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 cups water
1 small bay leaf
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 fresh parsley sprig
1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons creme fraiche (for garnish)**
* Please don't throw away those fresh beet greens when cooking fresh beets. Cook the beet greens and enjoy a delicious and nutritious dish just like your grandparents grew up with. Learn Beet How To Cook Fresh Beet Greens.
** Sour cream may be substituted.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Wrap beets in aluminum foil and roast until tender when pierced with a fork, approximately 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool. Peel beets. If desired, cut 1/4 of one (1) beet into 1/4-inch cubes; reserve for garnish. Cut remaining beets into 1/2-inch pieces. Check out my tutorial on Oven-Roasted Fresh Beets.
In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the butter and olive oil. Add the leek, onion, and celery; cook approximately 13 minutes, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown. Stir in ginger, allspice, white pepper, and beet pieces. Cook until the vegetables just begin to stick to the bottom of the pot, stirring frequently, approximately 7 minutes.
Add 2 cups water, bay leaf, thyme sprig, and parsley sprig. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until vegetables are very tender, approximately 25 minutes. Remove bay leaf, thyme sprig, and parsley sprig and discard. Remove soup from heat and let cool slightly.
Working in batches, puree the slightly cooled beet soup in the blender or food processor with the cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can be made one (1) day ahead. Cool slightly, cover, and refrigerate.
To serve, gently warm the soup (do not boil).
Divide soup between two (2) bowls. To garnish soup, spoon the creme fraiche into one corner of a resealable plastic bag. Cut tip off corner and pipe heart atop each serving of soup.
Makes 2 servings.