Serves 4

This is a nice healthy winter soup with a kick of freshly grated horseradish.

500g fresh medium beetroots, scrubbed
2ltrs vegetable stock
3 red onions, cut into rough 1cm dice
A couple of good knobs of butter
A few sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2tbsp spelt (or pearl barley), soaked in cold water for a couple of hours
1-2tbsp freshly grated horseradish

Halve the beetroots and put them into a saucepan with the vegetable stock, bring to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer very gently for about an hour, or until the beetroots are tender, topping up with water during cooking if necessary, then drain, reserving the stock.

Meanwhile, cook the spelt in boiling salted water for about 20-30 minutes or until it's tender, then drain. While the beetroot and spelt are cooking, melt the butter in a pan and gently cook the red onions for 2-3 minutes until soft.

Add the strained beetroot liquid, half of the beetroots and thyme and simmer gently for 45 minutes, then remove the chunks of beetroot and discard them.

Cut the remaining beetroot into 1cm dice; add to the soup with the spelt and bring back to the boil and season. Serve with the grated horseradish on top.