Spring is a strange time for vegetables from the garden. While gardeners are working at full pelt digging, planting and sowing, there is little in the way of fresh vegetables actually being produced from the garden. The over-wintered vegetables have gone over and most of the spring sowing not yet come to maturity. Little wonder that these are considered the lean months by gardeners.
So, until the plentiful summer and autumn months bring us an abundance of fresh vegetables, it is important to make the most of the fresh vegetables we have. And that is where delicious beetroot leaf soup comes in……
We started our spring beetroot in modules in the poly tunnels in January this year, planted them out early and by mid May they were the size of tennis balls, so ready to pick and eat. Normally you would twist off or cut off the leaves and boil the beet to make a delicious addition to salads, or grate them to make Borscht, beetroot soup. The leaves would simply be discarded.
However on a trip to Latvia in the 1990s, soon after the ending of the Russian occupation, we were presented with a delicious soup, which turned out to be beetroot leaf soup! Our hosts explained that with shortages under the Soviet regime, it was important to avoid waste and use all possible food. But this was delicious!
Try it for yourself.
Beetroot Leaf Soup
Place a large knob of butter in a saucepan and add one medium-sized onion finely chopped. When the onion is starting to clarify, add the leaves from three or four beetroots. Put the beet themselves aside for future use. Yellow or coarse leaves should be discarded and the remainder coarsely chopped and added to the pan. Move the mixture about with a wooden spoon over moderate heat for a couple of minutes and then add a litre of chicken stock (two cubes in a litre of boiling water) or alternatively vegetable stock. When the pan is boiling again add 60 grams rice for a “hearty” soup or 30 grams for a normal soup. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes for white rice. (Longer for whole grain or brown rice). Pearl barley could be used as an alternative. Season to taste adding pepper and paprika. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and crusty bread.
A delicious and highly nutritious soup costing pence…..and you still have the beet to boil up for your salads. Enjoy!