Pink Beet Soup for Breast Cancer Awareness in October

The Ingredients

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beet, onion, leek, potato, celery, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon,thyme, stock, lemon, yogurt


October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I am sure many of us have close friends or family members who had to deal with breast cancer. October is a time to:

  • support the cause with fundraisers by participating or donating (learn more on Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s site)
  • reflect on and support those who are currently fighting it, those who had survived breast cancer and those we lost from it
  • remind your female friends and family to do self-checks and get yearly mamograms. Early detection is very important in the fight against breast cancer.

One of my childhood friends, Michelle Cuthbertson-Jackson is a huge advocate of early detection and educating the young (she lost her mother to breast cancer). Michelle’s young daughter even knows what mamograms are – she calls them “mommy~grams”. Just recently, Michelle asked me for ideas on a soup that would represent Breast Cancer Awareness and one that has lots of antioxidants.

The first thing I thought of was beet soup with a low-fat cream base for the pink color, but I had to do my research to validate possible ingredients within various beet soup recipes that are deemed good antioxidants.

So what are antioxidants?

The National cancer institute fact sheet on antioxidants and cancer prevention fact sheet reads:

Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radical damage may lead to cancer. Antioxidants interact with and stabilize free radicals and may prevent some of the damage free radicals might otherwise cause. Examples of antioxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamins C, E, and A, and other substances.  (Source link)

I checked out many beet soup recipes, and the one that looked most enticing to me was Bob Blumer’s recipe that I will be tweaking a tad and adding some ingredients. Here’s some information on each of the ingredients I will be using in respect to antioxidant properties:

  • Onions, leeks and garlic – are all part of the Allium group, which have phytochemicals that have excellent antioxidant activity, including the ability to neutralise potentially harmful free radicals. Cancer preventative effects. Research has indicated that onions and garlic may have a role in the prevention of a wide range of cancers. The sulphur compounds in onions have proved to be strong anticarginogens. This is thought to be partially because they increase the activity of the body’s own detoxifying enzymes, which remove potentially cancer-causing substances. Flavonoids have also been shown to activate detoxifying enzymes.
    (Source link -PDF)
  • Beets – Beetroot are a rich source of potent antioxidants and nutrients, including magnesium, sodium, potassium and vitamin C, and betaine. (Source link)
  • Potato – all potatoes contain a good level of antioxidants; however, the pigmented varieties contain higher levels than paler-fleshed varieties (Source link)
  • Lemon juice – Citrus fruits including lemons, grapefruits and oranges, are loaded with antioxidants. (Source link – PDF)
  • Spices (clove, cinnamon, ginger and herbs (thyme) – are typical spices high in antioxidants (confirmed in vitro) (Source link)

Beet Soup – The perfect pink soup for Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-½ cups onion, chopped
  • 1-½ cups leek, chopped
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon chopped ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 gloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 cups red beets, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 cups potato, peeled (but keep peels on if new potatoes) chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • dash salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1-3/4 cups goat plain yogurt (reserve ¼ cup for garnish)

Cooking Instructions:

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onions, leeks, celery, ginger and garlic; cook until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in beets and potatoes, and cook for 1 minute.

2. Stir in vegetable stock, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, clove, thyme clove and dash of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; then turn down to a simmer right away and cover until the beets are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly (about 10 minutes). Remove and discard cinnamon stick, thyme sprig and cloves.

3. Add lemon juice, yogurt (1-1/2 cups only – leave ¼ cup for the swirl garnish) and soup to food processor, and pulse until liquefied (do it in batches if needed).

4. Return soup to saucepan, and gently heat through.

5. Ladle into bowls, and garnish with an outline of the breast cancer logo (add yogurt in Ziploc and cut a tiny hole on corner and then draw out the ribbon in the soup)

Original Recipe that I tried and adjusted: http://www.foodnetwork.ca/Recipes/Appetizer/Potatoes/recipe.html?dishid=6162

What I changed from original recipe:

  • change beets to chopped – didn’t roast them but cooked them slowly on simmer
  • added 3 gloves of garlic
  • added 2 teaspoon chopped ginger
  • added 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • added 1 cinnamon stick
  • added 3 cloves
  • added thyme sprig
  • used vegetable stock instead
  • didn’t sieve the soup – if you puree it long enough it is really smooth
  • replaced cream with goat yogurt and changed it from ½ cup to 1-3/4 cup (you can use any plain yogurt)

Soup Mistress Rating for Pink Beet Soup Recipe Makeover:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 
Taste: (5/5) 

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