Oven-Roasted Beet Soup with Watercress

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This is the final recipe left over from the husband's big 30 dinners. I almost didn't post, but the photos are so red and pretty, very Christmasy, seeing them changed my mind.

This silky soup was on the menu on night two. Roasted beets are delicious, and this soup has a unique, velvety flavor. It's super easy to make, the only time consuming portion is straining the soup, which we considered skipping, but after a test taste, decided the extra seven minutes were well worth it.

I am also now in love with crème fraîche. I've even been using it in my mashed potatoes.

Oven-Roasted Beet Soup with Watercress
From www.joanneweir.com
Serves 6

2 1/2 pounds beets, greens removed and washed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large red onion, minced
5 cups chicken stock
1 bunch watercress, stems removed, chopped
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1) Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2) Place the beets in a shallow baking pan and drizzle with the oil and 1 tablespoon water. Roll the beets to coat with the oil. Season with salt and pepper, cover with aluminum foil, and bake until the beets are tender and can be easily pierced with a fork, 60 to 80 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. When the beets are tender, remove from the oven and let cool. This can be done a day in advance, which is very convenient.

3) In the meantime, pour the oil from the baking pan into a soup pot. Warm the oil over medium heat, add the onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 7 minutes.

4) When the beets are cool, peel and chop them coarsely. Add them to the onions along with the chicken stock and 1 cup water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes.

5) Puree the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender, until very smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean soup pot.  The straining really make a difference in the texture of the soup. We did a taste test. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6) Reserve 1/4 cup of the watercress for a garnish. In the blender, puree half of the watercress with 1 tablespoon crème fraîche until very smooth. Add the remaining watercress and pulse 2 to 3 times. Add lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

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