We don't celebrate locally-grown beetroot enough.
"The red variety, of which the aptly named bull's blood is one, is part of a vibrant family of vivid yellows, whites and candy pinks, all of which work well in this sweet, earthy, quick-to-make soup," says Gill Meller in his new book, Root, Stem, Leaf And Flower.
The River Cottage chef says to serve this colourful dish steaming hot in autumn, or chilled in summer.
Beetroot soup recipe with celery and apple
3tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 or 5 raw beetroot (about 600g), peeled and roughly diced
4 tender celery sticks, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 dessert apples
200ml cloudy apple juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve (optional):
Extra-virgin olive oil
A scattering of basil leaves
Spoonfuls of natural yoghurt
4 small baked dessert apples
1. Place a medium, heavy-based pan over a gentle heat. Add the olive oil and when it's hot add the beetroot, celery, garlic and onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring regularly, for 12–15 minutes, or until the vegetables are beginning to soften and smell sweet and tasty.
2. Meanwhile, peel, quarter and core the apples, then slice them thickly. When the vegetables are ready, add the apples to the pan, stir, then cook for a further one to two minutes before adding 600ml of water. Place a lid on the pan and bring the soup to the simmer. Leave to simmer gently for 10 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.
3. Ladle the soup into a blender. Add the apple juice and whiz until smooth. Return the soup to the pan and bring it briefly back to the simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat.
4. If you intend to serve the soup cold, leave it to cool, then transfer it to a bowl. Cover and place in the fridge to chill for three to four hours.
5. You can serve the soup just as it is, but I like to finish it with a swirl of olive oil, a scattering of fresh basil, a spoonful of organic natural yoghurt, and even a small, whole baked apple, but that's entirely optional.
Root, Stem, Leaf, Flower: How To Cook With Vegetables And Other Plants by Gill Meller, photography by Andrew Montgomery, is published by Quadrille, priced GBP 27. Available now in hardback and eBook.