Simple pleasures

Beetroot soup with licorice

There is a frost outside, covering everything in a faint white. The school run has to begin a little earlier on these mornings and the only way for that to happen is with threats. I should get up a little earlier, but no-one wants to get out of bed when it’s this cold. Especially when it means having to go outside in a dressing gown to let the dog –who still smells like a tart’s boudoir after his trip to the groomer– out.

So on days like this after you’ve spent the morning trying to warm up through to bone level, soup is just the thing for lunch. For us, soup must have lots of things in it, more a meal in a bowl than a hot drink. And this beetroot, bacon and cabbage one has plenty going for it. A good homemade chicken stock, a pinch of licorice root powder giving a hint of spicy interest and bacon and buttery cabbage so it’s not just an odd, hot smoothie.

Peel and cube two or three medium-large beetroot and sauté them in a little olive oil in a covered pan or roast it in foil until soft. Add a litre or so of stock, a pinch of licorice powder (some people don’t like licorice or beetroot, in which case this whole thing may sound like a nightmare), salt and pepper, some dill seeds and bring to the boil. Simmer for about ten minutes then blitz in the blender. Don’t forget to attach the lid properly. 

Meanwhile, sauté the bacon and shred half a Savoy cabbage. Add that to the bacon with a little butter and cook for a few minutes until it starts to soften. 

Serve the soup with the bacon and cabbage and a pinch of chilli flakes for added warmth. 

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