Alex Makes: Chilled Beet Soup for the Holidays

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This soup is really simple to make. It's really a matter of cooking the beets and garlic together and allowing the flavors to meld. Once that part is done, it's simply a matter of adding the tangy element of the creme fraiche and the pleasing crunch of the cucumber. I find a chilled soup so refreshing and wonderful when paired with something like a braised meat. The other great thing is that you can make this entirely in advance and simply ladle it into the bowls when ready. For me, when I'm having people over, I love serving the appetizer effortlessly and getting the main course done. The goal is to make great food but to get out of the kitchen and have fun with my friends.

Chilled Beet Soup

You can make this and ladle it into the bowls when ready to eat.

Serves: 6-8
6 cups cold water
2 pounds peeled red beets, peeled and cut into thin slices
2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin slices
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1 small cucumber, peeled, diced and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper

¼ cup sour cream

1. In a large soup pot, combine the water, beets, carrots and garlic. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Allow the soup to simmer until the beets are tender, 15-20 minutes.

2. Using a blender, add the lemon juice to the soup and puree in small batches. Transfer to a bowl. Taste for seasoning.

3. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and stir occasionally to ensure proper cooling. If pressed for time, place the bowl inside another larger bowl filled with ice to accelerate the process.

4. Serve in a large bowl family style or, alternatively, ladle into individual bowls. Top with some of the diced cucumber and a dollop of sour cream.

Note: This soup can also be heated and served hot topped with the sour cream and cucumber.

Every week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex's Day Off , shares with readers what she's eating -- whether it's from the farmers' market or fresh off the boat, she'll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

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