Elevate Your Lunch Al Desk-O With This Summer Beet Soup Recipe

It’ll give you those expense-account vibes without having to leave your cubicle.

Chilled soups are a busy girl’s BFF. With just one round of prep and cleanup, you’ve got days’ worth of nutrient-packed meals to eat anywhere, no stovetop required.

Practical? Yes—but that doesn't mean batch cooking has to be boring. This beet gazpacho recipe from chef Jeremy Fox’s new cookbook, On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen, proves that make-ahead meals can not only be fast, but totally refined—a refreshing concept, especially if your MacBook is your most frequent lunch date.

And it doesn't involve elaborate ingredients or preparations, either. “While gazpacho is typically associated with tomatoes and cucumbers, I like using beets in this version, as an homage to cold summer borscht,” he writes. “The versatility [of beets] is really appealing to me: They're cheap, their greens are delicious, the juice is incredibly useful. You can do a ton with all the beet by-products.” (He does just that at his three restaurants in Santa Monica, CA: Rustic Canyon, Esters Wine Bar, and Tallula’s.)

The simple soup’s totally satisfying on its own, but the real MVPs are the seasonal garnishes sprinkled on top—cherries, almonds, garlic chips, and mustard-horseradish cheese. The finished product is impressive enough to serve at a dinner party, yet so fuss-free that it works for the office, too. Dare I say, it’s even worth minimizing your inbox for?

Scroll down for the beet gazpacho recipe that can transform an everyday lunch into an event.

Photo: Stocksy/Adam Nixon

Beet Gazpacho, with Mustard, Cherries, and Almonds

Yields 4 servings

22 oz. beets, peeled and thinly sliced
1 lb. white onions, julienned
8 oz. red bell peppers, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 generous Tbsp chopped garlic (germ removed), plus 1 Tbsp thinly sliced garlic (germ intact)
A big pinch of kosher salt
4 Tbsp Horsey Goat Cheese (recipe below)
2 Tbsp whole-grain mustard (recipe below)
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
14 Bing cherries, pitted and halved
1 Tbsp chopped toasted almonds
Handful of small florets of flowering brassica to garnish; can substitute arugula (rocket), watercress, or other mildly spicy greens

Horsey Goat Cheese
8 oz. soft fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
2 Tbsp heavy (double) cream
2 oz. prepared horseradish
A pinch of kosher salt

Whole-grain mustard
 6 cups white wine vinegar
2 cups brown mustard seeds
2 cups yellow mustard seeds
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup beer

1. In a large pot, combine the beets, onions, bell pepper, vinegar, chopped garlic, and 1 quart water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, uncovered, until the vegetables are very soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

2. Working in batches, blend thoroughly until smooth, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois. Transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours. Season to taste with salt—you will probably find that a cold soup requires more salt than a hot one. The gazpacho will keep for 3–5 days under refrigeration.

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, fold the horseradish goat cheese and mustard together. Refrigerate until needed. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

4. In a small sauté pan, combine the sliced garlic and olive oil and set the pan over medium heat. Set a sieve over a small bowl. Slowly cook the garlic, shaking the pan occasionally as it cooks, until evenly golden throughout (3–5 minutes). Drain the garlic oil through the sieve into the bowl and set the oil aside. Transfer the sliced garlic to a paper towel and sprinkle with salt.

5. Ladle the cold gazpacho into 4 bowls. Place a dollop of mustard-horseradish cheese on top and garnish with cherries, almonds, garlic chips, and garlic oil. Finish with the small florets of flowering brassica.

For the Horsey Goat Cheese

Yields about 1/2 cup

1. Using a silicone spatula, gently fold together the goat cheese, cream, and horseradish until thoroughly combined. Season to taste with salt. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

For the whole-grain mustard

Yields 2 1/2 quarts

1. In a non-reactive container, combine the vinegar, both types of mustard seeds, and salt. Cover tightly with a few layers of cheesecloth and secure in place with a rubber band or string. Set the container aside, away from direct sunlight, for 3 days. (This light fermentation will give your mustard a little extra zing.)

2. In a saucepot, melt the brown sugar into the beer over low heat. Working in batches, add the beer mixture and mustard seed mixture to a food processor. Pulse gently to combine. The mustard should be a cohesive mixture, with some grains broken up and others left whole. Transfer to a non-reactive container, stir to combine, cover, and refrigerate for up to 6 months.

Note: You can cut this [mustard] recipe in half if you’d like, but as mustard essentially lasts forever, I like to make a lot of it.

If you have any beets left over, you could juice themturn them into pasta, or use them in your next unicorn food masterpiece. And for more ways to squeeze the most out of every day this season, from now til Labor Day, check out our #99DaysofSummer guide.

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