Borscht spin-off with blue cheese, caramelised onion and walnut toasts

The prospect of the month of January stretched out ahead presents itself with a few questions, one of the most common being, how am I going to be healthier this year? There's a lot of pressure to answer this question in the new year, but the reality of 2021 is that we have a lot of external factors pressing in on us that might make it seem even more daunting than usual.

This recipe is a good mixture of things both healthy and pleasurable. Just as it would be masochistic to deny ourselves croutons or strands of mozzarella with our salad (an act akin to replacing presents with lumps of coal) when it is already cold and raining, it is important to enjoy all the health benefits of nourishing dishes without having to deny ourselves pleasure. The type of cheese and bread you use is up to you to dip or mix in to this pip-squeak herby beetroot soup.

As this recipe requires fresh beetroots, there is an extra recipe as suggestion of how to use up the tasty stems in a fresh version of the Italian gremolata.

Serves 2


For the soup:

4 medium beetroots, peeled and grated

1 onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp coconut or olive oil

2 tsp cumin

1 inch fresh ginger, grated and finely chopped

A big handful of fresh dill, roughly chopped

1 stock cube in 700ml boiling water

Juice of ½ a lemon

Salt and pepper

For the toasts:

50g blue cheese, thinly sliced (such as stilton)

A slice of bread of your choice (spelt sourdough works well)

1 tsp caramelised onion

Handful of walnuts, roughly chopped

Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large soup pot, then add the onions and garlic. Sauté until translucent, then add the cumin and ginger and stir until fragrant. Add the grated beetroot and stir, allowing it to soften for 3-4 minutes with the aromatics.

Squeeze in the lemon juice and stir through, then add the stock. Allow to simmer for ten minutes, or until the water has reduced by roughly a centimetre in the pot.

Meanwhile, spread the caramelised onion onto the bread and then cover with cheese. Place under a medium grill until melted, then throw the walnuts on top to toast for a further minute or until browned. Remove and cut into quarters.

Add the dill to the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in a bowl with the toasts sitting on top, and top with more dill or chopped freshly parsley.

Beetroot stem gremolata

Beetroot stems, washed and chopped

1 clove garlic, sliced

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tbsp good olive oil

Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until roughly blended and enjoy as a dip, on toast or thinned out with oil and used as a dressing.