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Beetroot Soup // 1960s

We found this 1967 recipe for ‘Beetroot Soup’ in our copy of the Sunday Telegraph Cookery Book and it went down really well on the chilly November afternoon we made it on. While the two of us aren’t really soup people we do appreciate a good soup on a cold day, especially one as pretty, nutritious and warming as this one. Just look at the colour of it!
Just above the ingredients list is a note from the author saying that this soup is perfect for “picnics or after the party”. Not sure about afterparties (if someone gets overexcited and spills their soup they’re going to have a job cleaning those stain) but served out of a flask at an autumn or winter picnic this would be a definite winner. That's exactly what this 1960s recipe achieves. These baked spareribs, rubbed with a refreshingly simple blend of garlic, juniper berries and parsley and lightly glazed with a mix of fresh orange juice, stock and white wine are gorgeous. Tender, juicy, clean flavours and still wonderfully filling.
Original Recipe: 'Beetroot Soup' (Book 8, 1967)
Speed: About 1 hour | Serves: 6


  • 1½ pints stock (we used chicken) *

  • 1 onion

  • 1 leek

  • 1 carrot

  • 1 turnip

  • 2 sticks of celery

  • 3 tomatoes

  • Bouquet Garni of parsley & bay leaf

  • 2 beetroots; one larger and one smaller

  • 2 tsp. tomato puree

  • Salt & Pepper

  • Sour Cream

* Note: One thing we didn’t do strictly in accordance with this recipe is to make the stock ourselves. We feel this was a responsible decision; too many different types of giblets/bones etc. were required which would have either needed us to get through a LOT of meat all by ourselves over a short space of time, OR waste a lot of meat. Not happening. That said, if YOU happen to have everything you need to make this stock, here are the instructions written here exactly as in the book:

THE STOCK: Make a rich stock with giblets of turkey or goose (plus some extra chicken necks if you can find them), a few bacon rinds, a pork rind, ¾ lb shin of beef and 2 pints of water.


Cook the smaller beetroot

1. Start by cooking the smaller beetroot. To do this, first trim the stalk so that 1 inch of it remains and keep the root on the end. Put into a saucepan and fill with just enough water to cover it, then bring to the boil before turning down the heat and allowing to simmer for about 10 minutes by which time it should be tender. Remove from the pan and plunge into a bowl of icy cold water for about 1 minute, and when it is cool enough to handle, peel the skin off using your thumbs - it should slide off easily. Set to one side, we'll be coming back to this and the larger (raw) beetroot later.

2. Chop up the onion, leek, carrot, turnip, celery and tomatoes and put them into quite a large pan. Add the bouquet garni and pour in the stock. Simmer until all of the vegetables are tender (about 20-30 mins).

3. Meanwhile, peel and grate the large raw beetroot and put it into a saucepan. Add just enough water to cover it and simmer over a low heat until this is tender (about 5 minutes). Then, grate into this your cooked beetroot and simmer both of the grated beetroots together for a few minutes before pressing the mixture through a sieve using a wooden spoon or a food mill to make a purée.

Note: To purée our beetroots, we used a food mill and the largest perforated hole attachment that came with it (as using the smaller ones wasn't getting us anywhere - only liquid would come out the other end). Of course, you can always use a blender, just expect that you'll end up with a smoother texture than the original recipe would've given you!

4. Strain the stock from the vegetables and return the stock to the large, lidded pot. Put the beetroot purée in the pot with the stock, stir in 2 tsp. of concentrated tomato purée ('or a small tin of sieved Italian tomatoes'), salt and pepper. Bring this almost, but not quite, to the boil and then either serve as directed below or turn into a heated flask to serve later.

'If the soup is to be eaten at the table, serve sour cream or yoghourt separately'


Original Recipe for 'Beetroot Soup'

'BOOK 8': The Sunday Telegraph Cookery Book (1967)

By: Jean Robertson for The Sunday Telegraph

Publisher: Collins for The Cookery Book Club (9 Grape Street, London, W.C.2, England, U.K.)

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