Fresh horseradish lifts this soup from the very good to the sublime. In its absence you could use a top-notch bottled version.
- 1 kg bacon bones
- 4 onions, peeled
- 2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 1–2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 bacon rashers, cut into small dice or strips
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 4 large beetroot, peeled and diced
- sour cream, for serving
- fresh horseradish, optional, for serving
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Make a stock by simmering the bacon bones with 2 of the onions, cut in half, the celery, carrot, and bay leaves in enough water to cover well, for at least 2 hours, preferably 4. Strain and discard the solids.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy based pan over a low heat and gently fry the remaining onion, finely diced, with the bacon, until very soft. Add the thyme and another bay leaf, if you like while you fry. Let your ears be your guide. If you can hear a crunch when you bite into onion with your back teeth, it’s not soft enough. I usually do this with a lid on, stirring often.
When the onion is meltingly tender, add the beetroot and reserved stock, adding more water if you run out of stock. The beetroot should be just covered with liquid. Add some salt, to taste, and simmer for about 1 hour or until the beetroot is quite tender.
Remove the thyme stem and bay leaf, and give the soup a little pulse with a stick blender if you like. Just a nudge to break up some of the beetroot. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream and some freshly grated horseradish on top.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by O Tama Carey. Creative concept by Belinda So.