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Thomasina’s Beetroot & Fennel Seed Soup

Thomasina Miers

Beetroot  icon
In season now

Serves: 4-6

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 45 mins


For the soup:

6 medium beetroots

3-4 floury potatoes (about 500g)

4 tbsp olive oil

2 small onions, finely chopped

1 tsp fennel seeds

a few pinches of chilli flakes (optional)

2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped

1.5 litres chicken, beef or vegetable stock

For the creme fraiche:

large thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled

250ml creme fraiche

finely grated zest of 1 lime and juice of 1/2 lime

Veg Portions / Serving: 1


Photography by Tara Fisher |

I’ll never forget a dinner we had for a huge gaggle of our Wahaca staff at Hartwood, a small beachside restaurant in Tulum, Mexico. They served giant whole beets they’d roasted in their wood-fired oven, sitting on beautifully seasoned labneh (this region of Mexico, the Yucatan, is heavily influenced by Lebanese cuisine); our team couldn’t believe how good they were. This soup is my take on borscht, with fennel seeds and chilli adding wonderful accents of flavour.


Top and tail the beetroot, rinse the top stalks and any leaves in cold water roughly chop and set aside. Scrub the beets and potatoes clean with a coarse scourer and roughly dice the beets (I always use rubber gloves for this to avoid pink-stained fingers). Peel the potatoes and dice the same size as the beets (the actual size doesn’t matter, although the smaller they are the faster they will cook).

Heat 3 tbsp of the oil in a large casserole over a medium heat and add the onions, fennel seeds and chilli. Sweat for about 8 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent, then add the garlic and vegetables. Cook the vegetables in the oil for about 5 minutes, stirring them to coat in the spices. Season generously with salt and pepper, pour in the stock to cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, by which time the vegetables should be completely soft. Blitz with a stick blender and adjust the thickness by adding more water, or simmering to reduce and thicken.

Meanwhile, grate the ginger into the creme fraiche. Add the lime zest and juice and season with a pinch of salt.

Just before serving, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan, and saute the beet tops for a few minutes until soft and hot. Season with a pinch of salt. Serve the soup in warmed bowls with a dollop of the creme fraiche and a sprinkling of the tops. It is delicious right away but improves substantially if you can rest it overnight, mostly I am too impatient.


Engaging Kids

Engaging Kids

Kids who engage regularly with veg through veg-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, sensory experiences, growing and cooking are shown to be more likely to eat the veg they engage with. Encouraging kids to engage and play with veg is the handy first step to them developing a good relationship with veg and life-long healthy eating.

Kids in the kitchen

Kids in the kitchen

Give the kids a vegetable brush if you have one and get them scrubbing and rinsing the veg. Older kids could peel the potatoes. And of course, have them help you blitz the soup (carefully – especially if hot!). The creme fraiche is their department – help them grate the ginger and let them stir everything together and dollop on top of the soup.



While getting kids to interact with veggies for real and using their senses to explore them is best, encouraging hands off activities like arts & crafts, puzzles & games or at-home science experiments can be a great start, particularly for those who are fussier eaters or struggle with anything too sensory. Use these veg-themed activities as a stepping stone to interacting with the veg themselves. We have loads of crafty downloads here, puzzles here, and quirky science with veg here.



Once you feel your child is ready to engage a little more, you can show them how to explore the veg you have on hand with their senses, coming up with playful silly descriptions of how a veg smells, feels, looks, sounds and perhaps even tastes. Find ideas, videos and some simple sensory education session ideas to get you started here.



The moments before food is offered can be a perfect opportunity for engagement that can help make it more likely a child will eat it! Giving children a sense of ownership in the meal can make a big difference to their feelings going into it and the pride they take in it. You know your child best, but if you aren’t sure where to start, we have some fun and simple ideas for easy roles you can give them in the serving process over here.

Thomasina Miers

Thomasina won BBC MasterChef in 2005. She is a cook, writer and presenter. She has written and co-edited 7 cookbooks. She is involved with initiatives to improve food in schools.

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