This recipe comes from a damp, cold winter’s dinner at Dar Nour—“House of Light”—
inside Tanger’s dense, whitewashed Kasbah. Into a dining room full of books, intimate
photos of the city’s rich literary history, patterned Berber textiles, European antiques,
and flickering candles, the silky, scarlet soup was presented in a heavy white tureen.
It was smooth and warmingly piquant with ginger and a generous grating of black
pepper. Perfect!
Away from Tanger and its Mediterranean blues, I have been served very different versions
of this soup. On a hot spring night at the edge of the vast palm groves in the southern
oasis of Zagora, among dusty, pounded mud-and-straw pisé walls of an ancient house
in the medina, the soup came slightly chilled and without the ginger, which allowed the
earthy sweetness of the beets to come through stronger. That version tasted as perfect
in Zagora as this warm, spicy version did in Tanger.
11⁄2 lb/680 g medium beets, peeled and
11⁄2 lb/680 g medium white potatoes,
peeled and quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Scant 1⁄2 tsp ground ginger
In a medium pot over high heat, put the beets
and potatoes, add 5B⁄c cups/1.3 L water, and
bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper,
cover, and cook at a low boil until the beets and
potatoes are soft but not crumbling, 40 to
45 minutes.
Remove from the heat, remove the lid,
and let cool, stirring occasionally, for about
10 minutes.
Using a food processor, and working in
batches as needed, purée the soup for at least
1 minute until satiny smooth.
Return the soup to the pot and stir in the
ginger. Bring almost to a boil over medium heat.
Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve
in white bowls to show off the vibrant color.