You know how every autumn, the weather has a period in which it hovers between summer and winter, when it is neither too cold nor too hot, the leaves haven’t even fully changed yet? The calendar tells you autumn has arrived but in your gut you have a feeling summer is still lingering around somewhere, keeping the cool rain at bay and the wind that has only just started to whistle. I am walking around in rain boots, ready for the changing seasons and at the same time enjoying stomping around in come what may, dressed in warm and cozy autumn clothing.
These kinds of transitions mark a shift inward to the focus of fall and winter, where stability becomes more apparent and we fall into deeper habits that hint at relaxation and balance. This is also the perfect time to start shifting our diet from lightness to foods with more density and attuning our health and digestion to heartier meals ahead. The onset of fall is also a good time to remember all the good food and accessibility we are lucky to have – many diets around the world are changing too, but the patterns are not always so healthy and plentiful as the opportunities we are accustomed to. Coined the “nutrition transition”, developing countries such as India, Brazil and China are undergoing change in the diet’s of their urban populations and converging towards the diets of developed countries. These kinds of changes can have major impacts on health and economists and scientists alike point out that what is characteristic of the nutrition transition is a decline in dietary diversity, an increase in intakes of fat, sugar, salt and animal foods and an increase in the consumption of processed foods. The irony here is hard to miss… following the example of industrialized countries means that there is a loss in dietary fibre, healthy carbohydrates and antioxidants in daily nourishment.
This simple and easy recipe is a tribute to the changing seasons and to the abundance and diversity of food we have available to us. Roasting root vegetables, softening autumn apples, and adding a kick of the cleansing properties of ginger, cinnamon and garlic all come together, perfectly balanced. This dense chilled soup is also plentiful in vegetable and fruit fibre, natural carbohydrates and antioxidants. If beets make you think of lace doilies and bland flavour, this is a soup that will change your mind. Anything but tasteless, apples, beets and ginger actually make a delicious flavour combination that doesn’t go unnoticed by dedicated juicers. Having come across this trio precisely as a juice at an organic café in Toronto, anyone with a powerful blender will find this soup to taste wholly fresh in the same way and with all of the dietary fibre still intact.
Sometimes making the choice to prepare our own meals gets lost as the variety of packaged foods face us at the store, but as we move into a period of balancing ourselves, this is a perfect time to engage in the relaxing habit of spending a bit of time preparing and being creative with meals that will nourish us and the planet.
With some non-committal roasting, 15-minutes of sautéing, and then 2 minutes in a blender, making this soup couldn’t be easier and it keeps well in the refrigerator for days on top of that.
Apples and their juices are cleansing and help digestion along. Malic acid, tartaric acid and pectin help remove cholesterol, lower blood pressure and balance emotions associated with a poor diet.
Beets are also full of fibre, as apples are, and contain high amount of folic acid – a B vitamin that is necessary to a healthy blood system. Beets are also naturally sweet and can be prepared in a variety of ways to please all taste buds.
Ginger is a prized root in Asian cuisine for a reason. Cleansing, rich in vitamins and minerals and definite anti-inflammatory effects. The fresh ginger you buy at the store may have a thick or thin skin, depending on whether it was harvested when it was mature or young and depending on your variety, it may be yellow, white or red in colour. Most ginger is a pale yellow colour and all varieties are extremely aromatic.
chilled beet, ginger + autumn apple soup
3 large beets
2 large sweet apples (red gala, fuji, golden delicious etc.), peeled + cored
1 large garlic clove, finely diced
2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely diced
1 1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch sea salt
thyme + fresh lemon juice for garnish
1. Wash and place the whole beets onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 400°F for 45 mins-1 hour until a knife pierces the flesh of the beet easily. Remove and let cool until comfortable to handle. Remove skins and chop.
2. Create an “applesauce” in a loosely-covered saucepan by simmering 1 cup water, the apples, garlic, ginger and cinnamon over medium-low stovetop heat until soft and fragrant. Approximately 15 minutes.
3. Purée the apple mixture, chopped beets, remaining 1/3 cup water and sea salt in a blender or food processor. Chill in the refrigerator (at least 30 minutes) until ready to serve. Garnish with thyme and a squeeze of fresh lemon to taste
source: Staying Healthy With the Seasons, Haas (M.D.), California 1981; The Atlas of Food, Millstone + Lang, London 2008.