Dinner:  October 7, 2009

In the last few weeks, I learned that two good friends have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Two young, vibrant women I care deeply about are in for a fight, and while I’m confident in their ability to beat this, they’ll need all the help and support they can muster.

Over the last several years I’ve become very aware of how powerful food choices are with respect to health and wellness, and with Amie and Jenny in mind, I created this vibrant soup. It’s loaded with healthful ingredients – beets, cabbage, ginger and turmeric, to name a few – and it’s enriched with a bit of cream at the end, because in my mind, balance and a little indulgence are important to a healthy lifestyle. Plus, it takes the soup from red to deep pink, a hue that is very much in vogue in October.


Roasted Beet Soup

1 lb. red beets
3 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
Kosher salt
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup shallot, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon freshly ground coriander
¼ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 cups shredded red cabbage
¼ cup raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
4 cups water
½ cup heavy cream
plain yogurt or crème fraiche for garnish

Note: If the beets have their greens still attached, remove them and reserve – they’re great sautéed in a little olive oil.

Scrub the beets and cut them into halves or quarters if large. Toss with salt and olive oil, place on a sheet pan, add the garlic cloves, and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes, until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Set the beets aside until they are cool enough to handle.

In a deep, heavy bottomed pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and a pinch of salt, and cook until just soft. Add the coriander and ginger, stirring through, and cook for a minute or two before adding the cabbage. Pull the skins from the beets and add the roasted beets to the pot. Remove the roasted garlic from its skins and add to the pot. Add the vinegar and water, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally and tasting to adjust the seasoning.

Puree using your favorite method (we use a stick blender), then stir in the cream off the heat. Ladle into bowls and add a dollop (or ribbon) of yogurt or crème fraiche. (You can, of course, make this dairy-free, omitting the cream/yogurt/crème fraiche, and adding fresh chopped herbs for garnish instead – cilantro, dill, parsley or fennel fronds all work well.)

Boston peeps: Amie’s husband Brad, one of my oldest and dearest east coast friends, put his musical mojo to work to arrange a benefit to take place at The Middle East on Saturday, October 17th beginning at noon. Live performers include Kristin Hersh (Throwing Muses/50 Foot Wave), Bill Janovitz (Buffalo Tom), Travels, Drew O’Doherty, Colin Clary (The Smittens/Let’s Whisper), and Adam Brilla (The Broken River Prophet). Kids under 12 get in free, and those of us who are a bit older can purchase tickets here.

Not in the Boston area? Please sponsor Jenny as she walks in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in NYC on October 18th.

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