I adapted this from Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook using beetroots from the allotment. Roasting all the veg first gives a richer flavour and the potato croutons add a nice texture. The spiciness of the chili works well with the creme fraiche, but you could leave this out along with the butter for a vegan version.
The quantities shown here would serve four or so for a light lunch depending on how greedy you are.
For the Soup
5 medium beetroots – left whole with some of the stalk attached
1 medium carrot – peeled and cut into rough chunks
1 stick of celery – cut into rough chunks
1 onion – peeled and cut into quarters
2 cloves of garlic – whole with skin still on
Olive oil – about 2 tablespoons
Vegetable stock – homemade if possible or Marigold bouillon
1 teaspoon Tarragon – fresh or dried
Small tub of crème fraiche
For the Croutons
Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
Large knob of butter
2 small potatoes – peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
Dried chili – 1-3 depending on how hot you like them
Small bunch of chives
Heat the oven to 220C. Place beetroot, carrot, celery, onion and garlic in a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and place in oven for about an hour. Everything should be slightly charred and the skin of the beetroot nicely wrinkled when done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool just enough to handle. Peel the beetroot and garlic and place everything into a large saucepan. Add the tarragon and enough stock to cover by about 2cm. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Transfer the contents to a food processor or blender and whiz into a smooth liquid. Sieve into another pan and add salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, take a large frying pan and melt the butter with the olive oil. When quite hot, add the dried chili and the diced potato and fry until golden.
Reheat the soup and serve with a dollop of crème fraiche. Top with the potato croutons and some chopped chives.