Cold Red Borscht

I am sure most of you, beautiful people, know what a borscht is. I am equally sure that everybody has a different idea of what it is. It reminds me of the four blind men and the elephant story: remember how each one of them felt a certain part of the elephant and then compared the elephant only to that part, not getting the idea of the whole? I’ve heard people say, “Borscht? It’s a cabbage soup.” True, but there is only one kind of borscht that I know of which is, in fact, a cabbage soup. The rest of them, and I know three more different ones, aren’t. The other prevailing impression is, “Borscht? A hot beet soup? Yechhh!” Also true, but again there is only one kind of borscht that is a hot beet soup, and that’s the one that also has cabbage in it.  But this is the middle of summer,  it’s pretty hot out there, although it had been much hotter in Odessa in July before sweaty aborigines and hordes of tourists got the blessing of air conditioners. We are making Cold Red Borscht, as opposed to Cold Green Borscht (to see that recipe, click here), which  is a cold beet soup, but without cabbage. It is also called Svekol’nik, from Russian Svekla – beets.

Cold Red Bt.jpg

You need to get beetroots together with beet greens. Then you separate roots from the greens and put the greens aside for now. Peel the beet roots, cut them in quarters, cover with water, and cook to softness.

Cold Red Bt 1.jpg

Meanwhile, while your beets are cooking, you can get the rest of your veggies ready. A nice size carrot, half a bell pepper, medium size sweet potato, a few scallions, and those beet greens. Actually, they are beet dark reds, or even purples, but you know what we are talking about, right? A handful of fresh parsley tops the list. Start with the carrot, and as soon as it is peeled, throw it into the pot to join the beets. Hold on to the rest of your veggies for now.

Cold Red Bt 2.jpg

There is a definite order of veggies going into that pot, and they actually go in pairs, like animals on Noah’s big boat. Peel sweet potato, clean the half of sweet pepper, and cube both. We like chunks of vegetables in soups and salads to be on the smaller side, so I cut them to about 1/3 inch (1 cubic cm), but if you prefer them larger, do it any which way you like. They go into the pot next, but not yet.

Cold Red Bt 3.jpg

Now you have to chop your scallions and beet greens somewhat smaller than you did potato and pepper. So whatever size you choose for those first veggies, these guys have to be smaller. Get them ready, but put them on the side for now.

Cold Red Bt 4.jpg

By now your beets and carrot should be nice and soft. Fish them out of the pot but leave the liquid boiling. Let them cool a bit, enough to grate them. Meanwhile, you can add sweet potato and pepper cubes to the boiling reddish-purple liquid. Add water to fill the pot. I am using my two-quart pot, and all quantities of ingredients account for that. Once beets and carrot are grated, throw them back into the pot and stir. Bring to boil again, reduce to medium heat, and cook for about 10 minutes, until potato and pepper pieces are soft to the touch. Add scallions and beet greens, stir, bring to boil again, reduce heat to medium and cook for about five minutes, until beet stalk pieces just soften.

Cold Red Bt 5.jpg

To make this borscht more attractive, I prefer to tear parsley into rough pieces, mostly leaving the leaves intact, but if you want it chopped, you can do whatever you like. Add parsley when you consider your borscht ready, then season with salt and pepper. All done?

Cold Red Bt 6.jpg

All, but for a secret ingredient – a splash of lemon juice. There are variations with chopped, diced, or crumbled hard boiled eggs, or even sliced hard boiled eggs floating on the surface, which looks very beautiful. You may want to try that, in which case omit lemon juice – they’ll clash.

Cold Red Bt 7

It is usually served with a dollop of sour cream. In my case, it is Tofutti Sour Supreme and a sprig of mint. Refrigerated well, it is probably one of the most refreshing and colorful summer soups I’ve ever seen, and chock-full of vitamins!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large beet roots with greens
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 medium size sweet potato
  • 1/2 green sweet bell pepper
  • 2 quarts water
  • 3 -4 scallions
  • Large handful fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Splash of lemon juice

PROCEDURE

  • Separate beet roots from greens. Peel and quarter beet roots. Cover with water, bring to boil, reduce to medium heat.
  • Peel carrot, add to beets. Cook together until soft, about 15 minutes.
  • Peel and cube sweet potato, about 1/3 inch (1 cubic cm).
  • Clean and cut green pepper to the same size as potato.
  • Cut scallions and beet greens, including stalks, into pieces smaller than potato and pepper pieces.
  • Once beet root and carrot are soft, remove them from the pan and put aside to cool. Do not discard liquid.
  • Place potato and pepper cubes into liquid, add water to fill the pot, bring to boil, reduce to medium heat.
  • Grate cooked beet and carrot. Add to the pot, stir, bring to boil, reduce to medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until both potato and pepper are soft to the touch.
  • Add scallions and beet greens and stir. Cook on medium for about 5 minutes, or until beet stalks soften.
  • Tear parsley into large pieces, add to pot.
  • Season with salt and pepper, add a splash of lemon juice to taste. Bring to boil and turn off. Make sure parsley retains its bright color.
  • Refrigerate well. Serve cold, garnish with sour cream or substitute and a sprig of mint.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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19 Comments Add yours

  1. I love beets! This looks incredible. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my favorite soups. So good on a summer day! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Do you make it with eggs or without?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When I make this soup I usually serve it with sour cream and sometimes with hard boiled eggs, but I like any version of the soup, including the ones with meat. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The one with meat is coming up for Chanukkah – a long wait.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes it’s definitely a winter soup. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Sumith Babu says:

    Love beet roots!! This looks very delicious!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Masala Vegan says:

    Gorgeous colour! Love the cat in the background too 🐱

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, and my cats thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I buy borscht in bottles from an Eastern European shop. I love it, never though I could make my own. I will definitely try (though it looks a bit scary, I’m not very precise when I cook). Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Borscht in bottles has very little resemblance to a real thing! It’s very easy to make, and – divulging a big secret! – I am quite far from precise. When I write up a recipe, I make a concerted effort to measure and record every ingredient, otherwise I deal with handfuls and pinches.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The bottled version is the only one I know, really. And I really like it, though I know it’s probably far worse than ‘the real thing’. I had a recipe for it once but it was really intimidating (the special sort of beetroot, the complex pickling process, the wait) so I never got round to actually making it. There’s another thing I’d love to make but I have no idea how it’s called. It was some sort of sour soup made from fermented barley (or something). I had it once when I was in Ukraine and I loved it. It was years ago and I still remember how much I loved it!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s easy, and thank you for reminding me of it. I’ll do it in a few days. I sort of put barley on the back burner, so to speak, until the gluten – no gluten issue about it is resolved. I’ll revisit it and do some research.

    Like

  7. rootandleaf says:

    Hello! Great recipe!! Im nominating you for a Sunshine Blogger Award!! https://rootandleaf.wordpress.com/2016/07/30/sunshine-blogger-awards/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Tasha, congratulations on your nomination! Thank you so much for nominating me – it’s an honor! Even though I’ve already had the Sunshine Award, I’ll be happy to answer your questions, and to nominate some more exceptional bloggers. My best wishes to you!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Roberta!

      Like

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