Beets are Sweet!

Winter is here and with that brings lots of roots. Our bazaar is filled with turnips, radishes, carrots and BEETS!

I eat beets all sorts of ways, steamed, roasted, pickled… I like them. But this is a great recipe even for the seldom beet-eater. It is sweet and tangy, savory and purple!

The ingredients are simple but the process takes some patience.

First, chop up all the vegetables. Recipes usually say to julianne them, but if you wanted to dice or shred them I am sure it would taste the same. Save the beet skins!

The key to this recipe is a good broth as the base. I usually use chicken and I find that the richer my broth is the better the soup will taste. Put your broth in a big pot with peppercorns and bay leaves, bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, add the cabbage.

Now, with those beet skins that you saved…make sure they are clean and put them in a pan with some honey and 2 cups of water. Boil 20 minutes then add 1 tsp vinegar. This step is not absolutely necessary, but  it will make for a more nutrient rich soup.

While you are waiting for those other things to boil, saute your beets in a large pan with some oil. Once they are soft, add a tablespoon of tomato paste, stir and cook 5 minutes then and 2 cups of your broth and simmer for 10 minutes.

Once these are done, I throw them in the broth so that I can use the same pan over again to saute the carrots and onions. Cook these just like you did the beets but without the broth at the end. Then add them to the big pot.

Strain your beet skin juice and add it to the pot, bring it all to a boil again and add the rest of the honey, salt, pepper, dill, parsley and garlic. After it all boils for a bit, add vinegar and turn the heat off. It will taste better after it sits for a while, but you can enjoy it right away. We like to add yogurt or feta cheese.

And then all that is left is a big purple mess to clean up…

Russian Borscht

adapted from Sergei Svetloff’s recipe

  • 1/2 head fresh green cabbage
  • 2 lbs beets
  • 3 medium carrot
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tb vinegar (acidity 3%)
  • 2 Tb tomato paste
  • 1 Tb fresh dill
  • 2 Tb fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 peppercorns black pepper
  • 2 Tb oil
  • 12 cups chicken broth
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a large heavy pot boil the stock, add the bay leaves and the peppercorns and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the shredded cabbage and cook on a medium heat for 8-10 minutes.

2. Wash the beet and peel it. Do not throw away the skin. Cut the beet into julienne. In a large pan heat some oil, add the beet and cook until half done. Add 1 tablespoon of the tomato paste and stir, keep cooking for 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the stock and cook for 10-15 minutes. Take off the stove.

2.  Put the saved beet skin in a small saucepan. Add two cups of water and some sugar. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes. At the end add 1 teaspoon of the vinegar. Strain and discard the beet skin and save the liquid.

3.  Cut the onions and the carrot into julienne, heat some oil in the pan and cook the vegetables until half done, add the rest of the tomato paste, stir, cook for 5-7 minutes.

4.  Slice the potatoes, shred the cabbage and finely mince the garlic.

5.   Add the beet and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the carrot and the onions, return to boil. Add the liquid left from boiling the beet skin and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add sugar, salt, ground black pepper, finely chopped dill and parsley and the garlic. Bring to a boil. Add the rest of the vinegar.

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