Chilled Beet and Goat Cheese Soup

It has escaped no one’s attention that it is really, really hot outside.  Salads are great for both the weather and the summer produce, but chilled soups get the job done well, too.  I turned to a Jewish standby—borscht—and updated it in a way that no shtetl dweller would ever recognize.  The flavors are inspired by a salad that Noa Levanon taught me a few years ago. [Editor’s note: If you’d also like the salad recipe, email me at Noa@gatherthejews.com.]

A couple of technical notes: when working with red beets, either wear rubber gloves or wash your hands very frequently, so you don’t walk around looking like you’ve come from a crime scene.  Also, cold soups require more spice than hot.  That’s why the recipe calls for so much.  You’ll also probably have to adjust a bit once the soup cools completely.

Total time: about 2 hours, plus cooling time

Yield: 4 servings

Level: Moderate

Recipe

© Courtney Weiner.  All Rights Reserved.

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium beets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups imitation chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 6 oz. goat cheese
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Garlic powder (optional)

Directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Wash beets and trim off greens and any long root ends.  Pierce each beet twice with a sharp knife and wrap individually in foil.  Place all beets on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook for about 50 minutes, until all beets can be easily pierced with a fork.  Let beets cool enough to handle, then slide the peel off with your hands under running water.  Cut the beets into 1/2” pieces and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pot.  Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes over medium-high heat, until the garlic begins to color.  Add the beets and stir to combine.  Add 1 ½ cups of the broth.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and crumble goat cheese into the pot.  Stir until the goat cheese melts.  Allow the mixture to cool to about room temperature.

Using a handheld blender or working in batched with a regular blender, puree the beet mixture, adding the additional ½ cup of broth or more to thin to the desired consistency.  Stir in the cilantro.  Continue cooling in the refrigerator.  Once the soup is completely cool, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and garlic powder, if necessary.