1 lb (450 g) red beets
1 tablespoon (15 g) butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄4 teaspoon white pepper
1 bay leaf
1 fresh thyme sprig
2 fresh parsley sprigs
1⁄2 cup (120 ml) cream, plus 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) for garnish (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Wrap the beets in foil and roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour.
Cool the beets and peel. Cut half of 1 beet into small cubes and set aside for the garnish. Chop the remaining beets into 1/2 inch (1 cm) pieces.
Melt the butter with the oil in a heavy medium- size saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the leek, onion, and celery and cook until they begin to brown, stirring frequently. This should take about 15 minutes.
Stir in ginger, allspice, white pepper, and beets. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to stick to the bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes.
Add 4 1/4 cups (1 l) water, the bay leaf, thyme, and parsley. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, thyme, and parsley.
To purée the soup, fill a blender or food processor no more than halfway. Start on low speed, keeping your hand on top in case the lid pops off from the rising steam. Increase the speed to high and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. You might need to do this in batches.
Return the soup to a clean pot set over low heat. Add the cream and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.
Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish each serving with the reserved beet cubes and 1 tablespoon of cream, if desired.