It’s a long weekend here in Brussels due to Remembrance Day and, having no things scheduled at all, I simply enjoy what the day brings. Such a nice thing to do. So far this meant a cozy tea session in bed to wake up, breakfast no° 1, followed by a really delicious, spontaneous breakfast no° 2 with friends at home with these wonderful sweet potato waffles (which we made with pumpkin) by fiveandspice, lots of tea, music and laughing. Most often, unplanned is just the best.
I might come back to those lovely pumpkin waffles at some point, but first things first. I want to share this neat little recipe for beetroot and pear soup with za’atar and other warming spices, something I postponed for a while now. We’ve been eating a lot of this soup lately, that makes for a very satisfying dinner, especially when you come home late in the evening and find it waiting for you on the stove.
As so often, it came together by what I found in the fridge, which was beetroots and the ginger-and-cardamom-spiced pear compote from my last post. Apple and beetroot is a classic combination of course, so I figured pear and beetroot should make a perfect couple, too. And they actually do. This soup surely is on the sweet side, but balanced by the spices it doesn’t lack the heartiness you would want your dinner (or lunch) to have.
It’s an easy recipe with most of the cooking time being hands-off and I hope you’ll be just as happy finding it on your stove after a long day as I do.
Note: If you don’t have the pear compote ready, just substitute with one pear (peeled, cored and cut into 2x2cm cubes), ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom and add a bit more ground ginger.
To make this soup vegan, simply use 2 tablespoons of olive oil instead of a mix of butter and olive oil and leave out the crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt at the end.
Beetroot and Pear Soup with Za’atar Roasted Pepitas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 white onion, finely minced
4-5 beetroots (approx. 500g), peeled and cut into 1x1cm cubes
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon za’atar (available at Middle-Eastern food stores, organic food stores or supermarkets)
pinch of ground allspice (available at Asian grocery stores and supermarkets, for example)
pinch of cayenne
1 bay leaf
800ml low salt organic vegetable stock
150ml pear compote (or substitute with: see note above)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100ml crème fraîche or full-fat Greek yoghurt
For the za’atar roasted pepitas:
4 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
½ teaspoon za’atar
pinch of cayenne powder
generous pinch of flaky sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Heat butter and olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add the beetroot cubes and the ginger, za’atar, allspice, cayenne and bay leaf (and the pear cubes, is using). Fry for another 2-3 minutes until the spices start becoming fragrant.
Add the vegetable stock and bring back to a gentle boil. Then turn down the heat a little, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, until the beets are completely soft.
Meanwhile, prepare the pepitas. Mix the seeds with the za’atar, cayenne, salt, pepper and olive oil, spread out on a baking sheet covered with baking parchment and roast for about 10 minutes, turning them over once after 5 minutes, until crunchy. Set aside to cool slightly.
Add the pear compote and lemon juice to the soup, stir, and transfer to a blender or food processor (alternatively using a hand blender) and blend to a smooth thick consistency. Return to the pan on low heat (just to heat through) and adjust with salt, black pepper and lemon juice, if needed. Turn off the heat.
Divide over bowls, drizzle with some crème fraîche or yoghurt and sprinkle with some pepitas.