BEETROOT & FENNEL SEED SOUP WITH GINGER CREME FRAICHE
I'll never forget a dinner we had for a huge gaggle of our Wahaca staff at Hartwood, a smart beach-side restaurant in Tulum Mexico. They served giant whole beets they'd roasted in their wood-fired oven, sitting on beautifully seasoned labneh; our team couldn't believe how good they were. This soup is my take on borscht, with fennel seeds and chilli adding wonderful accents of flavour.
For the soup
6 medium beetroots
3-4 floury potatoes (about 500g)
4 tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
1tsp fennel seeds
A few pinches of chilli flakes
2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
1.4 litres of chicken, beef or vegetable stock
For the creme fraiche
Large thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, peeled
250ml creme fraiche
Finely grated zest of 1 lime and juice of 1/2 lime
Top and tail the beetroot, rinse the top stalks and any leaves in cold water, roughly chop and set aside. Scrub the beets and potatoes clean with a coarse scourer and roughly dice the beets. Peel the potatoes and dice into the same size as the beets.
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large casserole dish over a medium heat and add the onions, fennel seeds and chilli. Sweat for about 8 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent, then add the garlic and vegetables. Cook the vegetables in the oil for about 5 minutes, stirring them to coat in the spices. Season generously with salt and pepper, pour in the stock to cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. When the vegetables are completely soft, blitz with a stick blender.
Grate the ginger into the creme fraiche. Add the lime zest and juice and a pinch of salt to season. Just before serving, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and saute the beet tops for a few minutes until soft and hot. Season with a pinch of salt. Serve the soup in warmed bowls with a dollop of the creme fraiche and a sprinkling of the tops.
Thomasina is the chef and co-founder of the Wahaca group of restaurants in the UK. You can follow her on Instagram @thomasinamiers This recipe and image are from her latest cookbook Home Cook (Guardian Faber, £25)