Beetroot and bottle gourd soup with almond aioli

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I don’t deem it necessary to spell it out, but gathering by the name, this soup is indeed H-E-A-L-T-H-Y. The mention of beetroots and bottle gourd (lauki or doodhi in Hindi, termed the most ‘boring’ veggie in my home) take you to super-food veggieland. I like bottle gourd, it maybe humble and placid in taste, but ranks as one of the healthiest veggies. That’s because it’s loaded with nutrients and water, which makes it equally soothing for the tummy. Beets, undoubtedly are equally nutritious, filled with fiber and those necessary vitamins and minerals.  Of course, everybody knows it, but I do need to reiterate that they are bloody damn good for you!

Just beets and gourd, would be a dull soup to have, yeah, especially when it needs to go down the throats of some picky eaters. Add the usual aromatics like carrots, celery, garlic, onions and throw in a potato to add some starch. Lemon zest and the lone star anise, certainly lend fresh flavour and a licorice taste, which brightens the soup up. Almond aioli, is what gives the soup the rich creaminess, no heavy cream or sour cream necessary. I love almonds in my soups, and add them to many soups I make.

I won’t lie, but this soup turned out delicious. I’m pretty pleased with my creation. A big hit at the dinner table tonight. Vegan and gluten-free, the earthy flavours of beets and the goodness of bottle gourd, enjoy this soup guilt-free 🙂

Servings 4-6

Ingredients :

4 red beetroots, peeled and diced in cubes

1 russet potato, peeled and diced

1 carrrot, diced

1 shallot, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups chopped bottle gourd or lauki

1/2 tsp.fresh lemon zest

1 star anise

8-10 almonds

Olive oil

4 cups water

Salt and black pepper, to taste

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To make the almond aioli – Soak that almonds in water for 6-8 hours or overnight. Peel and add almonds along with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a blender. Blend to a paste.

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In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the shallots, celery and carrots. Sauté for 5 minutes over medium high heat. Add garlic. Add the remaining veggies, namely, potatoes, beetroots and bottle gourd. Stir well and sauté for another 3-4 minutes.

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Add star anise. Add water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, till the veggies, especially beets are tender.

Remove the star anise. Blend the mixture when cool, in a blender, or use a handy immersion blender, which are ideal for soups.

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Once blended, add the almond aioli. Season with salt and black pepper.

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Before serving, heat the soup. Add fresh lemon zest, and serve.

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