Nigella Lawson's recipes have a beautifully generous quality about them. She often references "Lawson portions" (i.e. BIG), which gets me very excited. Although I can't enjoy the generous portions I used to (office job! slow metabolism!) -- I get very excited about the idea of large portions. I'd give anything for my 19-year-old appetite. It was fun.
Which is why I was drawn to her beet soup recipe. It's clean and sprightly, with Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar foiling the sweet beets. It's found in her book, "How to Eat". If there's anyone I'm willing to let dictate how I eat, it's undoubtedly Ms. Lawson. She with her butterscotch cake that made a former colleague nearly weep with joy. All the same, she has a way with brussels sprouts that makes me nearly weep. (The secret is bacon, of course.) She's the queen of both sweet and savory.
Back to the soup. The biggest task is boiling and peeling the beets, but it can be done days ahead. Once that's done, it's a matter of putting them in the blender with water, dijon mustard, and balsamic vinegar. Pour the puree in a pan, add more water until it's the consistency you like, and heat until desired. Note that the soup will thicken as it sits in the fridge; you'll want to add more water upon reheating. Also, don't wear white when you make this.
"How to Eat" by Nigella Lawson
2 large or 4 small beets (about 1.5 lbs)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
buttermilk or yogurt (optional)
Put the beets in a large pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and boil for 2 hours or until tender. (Less, if they're small.) Slip a knife in one to test doneness; it should insert easily. Remove the cooked beets (retaining the cooking liquid) and slip their skins off under running cold water. This step can be done days ahead.
Put beets in a food processor or blender together with the mustard and balsamic vinegar. Puree, adding the cooking liquid until the texture is as you like it. (Mine was a bit thick.) The soup will thicken as it sits in the fridge, so you'll want to add a little more water each time as you reheat. Add buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream if desired. Snipped chives are nice, too.