roasted beetroot soup with curry spices and coconut

beetroot rasam
In trying to overcome my childhood trauma of my father’s favourite sandwich (pickled beetroot and piccalilli), I have spent years trying to love beetroot. To my horrified taste buds, much maligned beetroot tasted of sweet mud. Yet I have hated feeling as if I have been missing out on something, so I decided to persist. It's been a very long time in coming!

I started off incorporating beetroot into a cake, very similar to carrot cake, since its natural sweetness might help to disguise (for me) it's robust earthiness. The beetroot with toasty cake spices and hazelnuts was rather nice. Well I didn't put the whole lot on the compost anyway.

I moved on to Nigel Slater's herb meatballs, packed with grated beetroot and had a bit of a hallelujah moment when I realised that not only did they taste delicious but that I really didn't actively hate beetroot any more.

But those recipes were ones where beetroot was part of the chorus, rather than the star. But making a southern Indian-style rasam soup, combining beetroot with warming curry spices, tamarind and coconut, I have learned to like if not love the stuff.

Serves 4
Skill level: Easy

600g raw beetroot, trimmed and scrubbed
vegetable oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
rasam spice mix
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 dried red chilli
4 tsp urad dal (optional)
1 x onion, chopped
2 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
600ml water
1 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tsp palm sugar
coconut milk or coconut cream
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 x dried red chilli, finely chopped


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C / Gas Mark 6.
  2. Put the beetroot in a roasting tin and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil, 3 tablespoons of water and seasoning. Cover with foil and roast for about 1 hour until tender. Roughly chop when cool enough to handle.
  3. Pre-heat a small frying pan. Dry fry all the spices and urad dal until lightly toasted. Grind until a powder.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and gently cook for 10 minutes, before adding the garlic. Continue to cook for 2 minutes before adding 1 tablespoon of rasam spice mix. Cook for another minute before adding the chopped beetroot. Cook for another minute, making sure that the beetroot is well coated with spices.
  5. Add the water, tamarind paste and palm sugar. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Check the seasoning and set aside to cool slightly before blending. I also sieve my soup for extra smoothness.
  6. Return the soup to a clean pan and reheat. Check the seasoning and add a splash of coconut milk or a dollop of coconut cream and warm through.
  7. Temper the mustard and cumin seeds, and dried chilli by frying in hot oil for about 30 seconds. Drizzle over the soup and serve.


o cozinheiro este algarve said...

Beetroot beatified,-a truly wonderful recipe.So glad you are finally converted and have faith in the glorious beet.

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Or "beetified" :) It is rather glorious, if only for the colour. There was a little soup leftover and I used it cook some rice, which turned the most beautiful rose pink colour and just a hint of flavour!

cornercottage said...

The colour is so uplifting, perfect for a cold winter day. I've always loved beetroot, pickled or fresh - I remember my mum boiling it in a huge pan for pickling for Christmas! Must pass/use this recipe on her!

Unknown said...

I adore anything beetroot but like you avoided it until well into adulthood. What got me to fall in love what simply roasted, in the skins with a little oil. Your soup looks beautiful and the added spices make it sound divine!

Petra said...

I love the sound of the rasam spice mix with beetroot. It sounds gorgeous and I love the beetroot color.