Roasted Beet Soup with Thyme, Lemon, and Crème Fraîche
I used to avoid recipes that had weird sounding ingredients out of fear that I wouldn't like it or couldn't find it. But over the years my natural inclination to never allow myself to be censored in any way worked it's way into my cooking. Now I'm like a dog with a bone when hunting down specialty ingredients or figuring out alternatives. Crème Fraîche was once on my "what the hell" list. Who knew it was so easy to make?
The Differences Between Sour Cream & Crème Fraîche Sour cream has a fat content of about 20% and may include ingredients like gelatin, rennin, and vegetable enzymes to stabilize it and make it thicker. Crème fraîche has a fat content of about 30% and does not contain any added thickeners. Crème fraîche is thicker, has a richer flavor, and is less tangy than sour cream. Choosing between the two all depends on how you plan to use it. Because sour cream has less fat but more protein, simmering or boiling it will result in curdling, so use crème fraîche in sauces or soups instead (unless you just stir sour cream into something once it's cooked and off the heat). If using in a salad or as a topping, they're pretty much interchangeable and the choice is yours — some people like the tanginess of sour cream, while others like the richness of crème fraîche. Since crème fraîche is a specialty grocery item and costs more than sour cream, think about what you're making so you make the right choice at the market!
Crème fraîche is ridiculously easy to make. Who knew? The recipe is on this site under Dips, Sauces & Marinades.
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
1 small leek, white and light green parts sliced
The leaves from 4 stems thyme
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Crème fraîche for serving
Instructions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and dice the beets, and place them on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.
Toss with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until tender to the point of a knife.
When the beets are roasted, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large stockpot. Add the sliced leeks and season with salt and pepper, and the leaves of thyme. Sweat on medium-low heat until the leek is tender, but not golden.
Add the beets, vegetable broth, and lemon juice, and bring to a boil.
Use an immersion blender to purée the soup. Ladle into bowls, and top with a dollop of crème fraîche.