Chilled beetroot soup with crème fraîche

Sweet and sharp, this beautifully coloured soup is tempered by a final teaspoon of crème fraîche placed casually in the centre just before serving. Serve well chilled, as it tastes fresher that way.

5 firm, medium-sized red beetroots
1 medium red onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 knob of unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp red-wine vinegar
1 litre/13/4 pints of water
4 tbsp crème fraîche

Scrub the beetroots clean under cold running water. Place in a saucepan and add enough cold water to cover comfortably. Add a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil.

Once the water has boiled, turn down the heat and cook until the beetroots are tender when pierced with a knife – this will take about 45 minutes.

Once the beetroot is cooked, remove from the heat and drain. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then peel off the skin – it will come away easily. Finely chop and set aside.

Place the onions in a pan with a knob of unsalted butter, season and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the vinegars and cook for a further five minutes then remove from the stove and allow to cool.

Now put the onions and beetroot in a food processor along with the water and blend until smooth, then place in a bowl and chill well in the fridge. When ready to serve, stir once or twice, and taste and adjust the seasoning as you see fit. Ladle into chilled soup plates and finish with a dollop of crème fraîche. Serve at once.

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