What kind of salad pairs well with beet soup?
January 5, 2019 3:24 AM   Subscribe

Novice cook here. Insights or recipes appreciated.

I finally managed to make a beet soup that I didn't want to spit out. It was very yummy.

Rather than conjure up any random salad, I was wondering what would work best with a beet based soup? Since I don't know much about flavors or cooking. A specific recipe would be awesome, but general insights would also be good.
posted by fantasticness to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Arugula with goat cheese, toasted walnuts (stir them around in a hot skillet until you can smell them, let ‘em cool) and whatever vinaigrette you like.
posted by STFUDonnie at 4:30 AM on January 5 [9 favorites]

I was coming in to say something with goat cheese as well. STFUDonnie's suggestion sounds about perfect to me.
posted by saladin at 4:48 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]

What's in the soup (other than beets)? That will help guide you to harmonious flavors for your salad.

A classic beet salad is what STFUDonnie just suggested - a soft cheese (usually goat), walnuts and a more bitter green like arugula topped with slices of roasted beets, so it would make for a fine pairing if you just looked at the soup as a substitute for the roasted beets.

I think dill tastes fantastic with beets. You can use other things that mix well with dill to build a salad. Try fresh dill, thinly shaved fennel slices, slivers of celery, some hard boiled eggs and a lemony dressing (just lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper with maybe a little sugar depending on the sweetness of your lemon.) Or fresh dill, watercress, cucumbers and some of those tiny shrimp mixed with a little mayo or sour cream and some sherry vinegar.

A really fantastic salad is all about combining different textures and flavors. You generally want something leafy, something crunchy, something soft, something meaty/toothsome (this is hard to describe but like, eggs, beans, sometimes nuts and seeds, or of course meat), and a slightly rich dressing. Combine those textures with different flavors of bitter, salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and umami.

So to use the classic beet salad with goat cheese to explain this: The beets are the "meaty" part as well as the sweet. The cheese is salty and soft. The walnuts are crunchy and umami. The arugula is spicy and bitter as well as leafy. Vinaigrettes are usually sour and rich and sometimes salty. A full spectrum of flavors and textures when all put together.

When you're making a salad you can sort of start with one or two ingredients that you definitely want to use and then figure out what else should be added by determining what aspects you're missing. By pulling a soup into the mix, you've already got a couple flavors (it's beet soup so it's going to be sweet, it might also be sour? or salty?) and you might have the textures of meatiness and softness. So start with your leafy thing of choice, since that's likely not in your soup, and find a crunchy, and maybe a meaty thing or a soft thing or both. Make sure one is bitter (probably the leafy thing) and one has a bit of spiciness like some fresh black pepper in the dressing or maybe a dust of cayenne on a crouton. Use a yummy oil in the dressing or some kind of creamy thing like sour cream or mayo or buttermilk (as in ranch) for richness. If your beet soup is very sour or very sweet, avoid those aspects in your salad. That way you'll have more different interesting things to experience throughout your meal.
posted by Mizu at 4:53 AM on January 5 [5 favorites]

A salad with mushrooms could be really good (mushroom pirogi are a classic addition to borscht). So, something like arugula or spinach, sauteed mushrooms, a little dill, and a simple lemon dressing. Adding toasted walnuts could be nice too. Or you could do a mustard-y vinaigrette in place of the lemon dressing, with tarragon in place of the dill.
posted by snaw at 5:31 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]

If you didn't want to get that complicated, a simple green salad with a simple vinaigrette dressing would likely be lovely. I usually do mesclun mix and maybe some chopped chives, salt and pepper, and then a dressing of about 1 Tablespoon champagne vinegar (balsamic would also be good), 1/2 teaspoon or so dijon mustard (optional), a pinch of salt and pepper, whisk that all up with a whisk or a fork, then slowly whisk in about 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Taste and adjust for oil/salt/pepper. (You may need to double or triple the ingredients if you're making more than one or two side salads.)

Some sourdough or really good multigrain bread would be a nice touch on the side, too.
posted by lazuli at 6:58 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]

Cucumbers, goat cheese, fresh parsley, lemon dill vinaigrette
posted by kapers at 8:17 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]

Oranges, arugula, thin sliced red onion with maybe mint and soft cheese. Vinaigrette of orange juice, dab of honey, oil and if you like it sharper wine/Sherry vinegar.
posted by jadepearl at 8:23 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]

To answer the question about what else is in the soup- red bell pepper, veggie stock, onion, apple, ginger.. I can't remember the other stuff in the recipe right now, but the main ingredient is beets. A lot of the other ingredients are negligible.
posted by fantasticness at 9:47 AM on January 5

Definitely bitter / peppery: if not rocket/arugula, then a classic chicory/endive/radicchio salad.
posted by holgate at 9:50 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]

Something to contrast the apple and beet sweetness - bitter or spicy greens (maybe including the beet greens, which are yummy raw if you slice them thinly), goat or blue cheese, pistachios or pecans or walnuts, maybe some onions pickled in vinegar or lemon juice. I make a wilted winter greens salad with a bunch of different greens and a lemon and honey and olive oil dressing that might go nicely, possibly with any of the above added.
posted by centrifugal at 1:59 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]

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