roasted beet soup

1 lb beets-peeled

olive oil

2 leeks--white and light green only--cleaned and cut in half

2 cloves garlic--peeled

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

4 cups vegetable broth (or water)

juice of 1/2 lemon + 1 tsp finely grated zest

knob of butter (optional)

1/4 tsp white pepper to taste (or more to taste)

salt to taste

serve with creme fraiche

preheat the oven to 350F. fill a roasting pan with the beets, leeks and whole garlic cloves.  cover lightly in olive oil and a bit of kosher salt.  toss to make sure the vegetables are all lightly coated in the oil. roast until fork tender (about 1 hour). allow the vegetables to cool slightly and then cut into medium size pieces (1 1/2-2").  toss the vegetables (beets, leeks, garlic), along with any pan juices into a stock pot.  add bay leaf, thyme, lemon juice, lemon zest and cover with broth.  gently simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender.  remove the bay leaf and the thyme stalk.  toss in butter (if using) working in batches, whirl the soup in a blender or food processor, until smooth.  if it becomes too thick, add a bit more broth (or water).  pour into clean stockpot as your batches reach your desired consistency.  if you wish for smooth and silky soup, push the blended soup through a fine sieve.  add pepper and taste for seasoning.  serve hot with a dollop of creme fraiche stirred through