Nancy J. Parisi’s Famous Beet Soup – Recipe

My friend Nancy sent me this scrumptious recipe for beet soup and I was able to use every bit of my beet supply and some carrots to boot.  As Nancy’s recipe suggests, I also added a potato to give the soup more texture.  This soup has three things going for it.  It’s delicious, it’s packed with iron and, as you can see from my photo below, it’s lovely to look at too.  The rich red color with little flecks of green from the fresh basil make a beautiful presentation.

Nancy is famous in Buffalo for many reasons.  First of all, she knows pretty much everyone.  Also, she’s a talented photographer.  And if that weren’t enough, she’s also been featured in several publications for her now famous annual Red Party and as a featured local chef.  I hope you enjoy her recipe as much as I did!

Beet Soup

This is meant to make several portions for 2, enough for 4, plenty to store for a few days.
Note that there are basics, and this can all be adjusted for ingredients that you have on hand.

– 3-5 beets, scrubbed, peeled, cubed into 1.5” cubes
– 1 bunch of leeks (5 or 6 that are 1.5” in diameter, trimmed at bottom of its little roots, and trimmed off where the green is turning darker – discard first layer of leek, slice ¼” wide, and clean well in a colander). If you don’t have leeks, use onions – red or sweet Vidalia. But truly any onion will do – you want about 2 c of onions but don’t fret if you’re short on onions, you want at least 1 c.
– ¼ c olive oil/butter/cooking oil on hand – or a combination of oil + butter.
– 1 quart prepared organic stock, flavor depending on your taste. Top choice is vegetable stock, second choice is chicken, third is beef. Each imparts a different flavor, all are good.
– Additional, available vegetables to add texture and flavor such as two large carrots, 1 large potato.)
– Fresh or dried basil, to taste, or approximately 1/8 c.
– Salt and pepper to taste.
– Garnish: plain yogurt or sour crème, approximately 2T/serving.

1. In the largest stock pot that you have (for ease of stirring, and stick-blending if you have a stick blender) melt ¼ cup olive oil or any other oil or butter that you have.

2. Add in chopped leeks or onions. Stir and cook until softened, about five minutes. I usually sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the onions.

3. Add in peeled and chopped beets. To facilitate cooking, chop the beets into approximately 1.5” squares. Cover pot to steam, stir occasionally, reducing heat to medium low or low. Slow cookin’ is good cookin’.

5. Add in your additional vegetables if you have them – carrots and potatoes. The carrots add to the sweetness (as will the basic), the potatoes firm up the texture, but are not necessary. In pureed soups anything goes … and is delicious.

6. Cover all and occasionally stir until the beets are very soft – test by sticking a butter knife through one.

7. Add in the stock and simmer for about 10 minutes.

8. Take the stock pot off the burner and let cool for a little bit. I use a stick blender to make this step easier. If you have a regular blender, ladle soup halfway up the blender and make sure that you use a towel over the blender as it’s still warm! Blend and pour back into the stock pot – repeat until all the soup has a velvety texture.

9. Add in finely-chopped fresh, or dried basil.

10. Place stock pot back onto burner and bring up the heat.

11. Add salt and pepper to taste. Soup may be served warm, or chilled first for at least one hour if it’s to be served chilled.

12. Before serving, garnish each serving with a generous dollop of plain yogurt or sour crème.

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