A good friend of mine wrote me this thought earlier this week:
“Spring seems full of poetry; I think about how determined the flowers are, even if they only bloom for a short time. Spring flowers are the most beautiful ones because of this- they’re eager and willing to come out before the weather stabilizes and often get broken by wind or frozen by cold nights, they are like the first in battle. But they are the most beautiful because they are the first.”
Beets and rhubarb are among the first fruits of all those who slept through the long winter; their bright magenta hues plunge faithfully through the dead earth, like a blood sacrifice for the hope of spring.
Although it may still seem a little chilly outside to you, the volatile skies of spring will surely bring you a sunny afternoon upon whence you can bestow the gift of the first chilled soup of the warm season.
Chilled Beet-Rhubarb Soup
adapted from Vegetarian Times
1 ¼ lb. beets, stems trimmed and well scrubbed
8 oz. (about 2 cups) fresh rhubarb, trimmed, cleaned and diced
1 large cucumber, cut into chunks
½ cup plain yogurt + more for garnish (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Put beets in a large saucepan, and cover with water. Put a lid on pan, and cook beets over medium heat until completely tender, for about 18 minutes. Drain beets, reserving cooking water (which should be bright red).
- Put rhubarb into a saucepan, and add 1/2 cup cooking water from beets. Cover, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is very tender. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool.
- When beets are cool enough to handle, slip off skins, and cut beets into chunks. Put beets, cucumber, rhubarb, yogurt, and 3/4 cup cooking water from beets into food processor, and purée until very smooth.
- Transfer soup to a large bowl, and add more beet cooking liquid if desired to thin soup. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls, and top with spoonfuls of yogurt, if desired.