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Beet Soup

Borscht is an Eastern European soup and comes in many variations. My family is from the Minsk area in Belarus. This version is my recipe adapted from my grandmother’s who was born there. She immigrated to the US in 1911 when she was 16 years old.

Above is a beet soup made with grated beets and no greens and below is a beet soup with julienne sliced beets and the greens. Same recipe, but different beet preparation.

I have made many variations of beet soup, also known as borsht. Borsht is a soup mixture of vegetables including beets, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes and possibly other veggies. The bright color of beets gets muted when cooked with other vegetables, so I like to make this beet soup with only beets, tomatoes and some onion in a vegetable broth with added spices. It’s really so simple. 

And the big surprise is that my beet soup tastes delish hot or cold! Cold soup in the summer is so refreshing! 

We had dinner in Chicago at the Russian Tea Time Restaurant. It’s much more than a tea room. Their menu is full of hearty Eastern European fare! Their borsht was a beautiful red of grated beets and carrots which inspired me to develop this recipe for Beet Soup! 

Here are your ingredients

Beet stems, leaves and beets

Beet greens can be added to the soup, quickly sautéed or made into a salad. My Beet Green Salad recipe link is below


If you add the stems and leaves, double the seasonings! If you add the stems and leaves you’ll make about 8 quarts. If you don’t it will be closer to 5 quarts

Wrap the coriander and allspice seeds in a small piece of cheesecloth if you want to prevent biting into one!

8 medium to large beets

8-16 cups vegetable or chicken stock, low salt if possible if using store bought stock. Stock is better than broth! Better Than Bouillon is good too. Use 8 cups to make a thicker heartier soup. Use 16 cups makes a lighter soup.

2 – 28 oz cans diced tomatoes in juice, not sauce!

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

5 large bay leaves

8 large cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

10 whole allspice or more

10 whole coriander seeds or more

1/4-1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes. This adds a fair amount of heat. Use less if you don’t want it hot.

1/4 cup sugar or more

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 small bunch fresh dill, it’s about 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill weed

Salt as needed. If you use a salty stock or bouillon you probably won’t need much salt if any


  • Trim off stems and leaves from beets. Reserve the stems. Use the leaves in this soup or to make a Beet Salad. Cut the greens in 1-2 inch strips or squares and add to the soup at the very end.
  • Wash the stems and cut them into 2 inch lengths. Set aside.

  • Soak beets in water and scrub clean.
  • Peel beets with a vegetable peeler. Grate them with a food processor or Kitchen Aid attachment or slice and then cut into julienne strips. Set aside in a bowl.
  • Meanwhile, in a large 12 quart stock pot, heat the stock. 
  • Add onion and tomatoes to the stock.
  • Add bay leaves, garlic, allspice, coriander, and hot pepper flakes. Tie the coriander and allspice up in a piece of cheesecloth if you want. Cover and bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes. 
  • Add the beets and stems to the soup. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for 10 minutes.

Here is the beet soup made with julienne strips of beets and the greens

  • Add sugar, red wine vinegar, and dill. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. 
  • Add more seasoning to taste
  • Add greens if you like. 
  • Remove the bag of spices.
  • Cool and store in the frig for a full 24 hours so the flavors meld. 
  • Remove the bay leaves before serving if possible
  • Float sour cream or plain yogurt on each bowl if you like. But you’ll lose some of the bright red color! This is traditional, but not necessarily always used.
  • Or serve it ice cold in the summer!
  • Voila!

This beet soup is made with julienne strips of beets and the greens.

Empty bowls of beet soup offer a beautiful color that’s even pleasing to look at!

I store my Beet Soup and many other leftovers in quart and pint size canning jars. It’s easy to see what’s in them and they’re reusable for decades! Aren’t they pretty?


Beet Greens Salad

I love to make borsht or beet soup, but I don’t always want to add the beet greens to the soup. And greens still attached to the root vegetable are so very fresh! Beet greens are a great source of calcium which we need to treat and prevent osteoporosis. And they are full of antioxidants!

 This is quick and simple. Serve it cold as a salad or hot as a vegetable. Both are prepared the same.

  • Cut the leaves and stems from the beets
  • Wash well in water and drain
  • Place greens on a cutting board 

Beet greens quickly cool down in ice water

  • Cut off the stems and reserve for soup if you like, or use them here. Cut the stems in 1 inch or bite size pieces.
  • Cut the greens into 3 inch sections, perpendicular to the stems
  • Heat on the stove a large pot with 1/4 cup water
  • Place greens into the hot water
  • Toss greens a few seconds until slightly wilted.
  • Remove from pot with a slotted spoon
  • Place in a large container of ice water for 5 – 10 seconds or until cooled
  • Lift greens out of the water with your hands or slotted spoon and drain in a colander
  • To prepare the salad place 1/2 – 1 cup of the greens on a small plate
  • Drizzle over the greens good quality olive oil and white balsamic vinegar
  • Sprinkle with flaked sea salt
  • Voila! Your salad is ready
  • You can heat this in the microwave if you would like to serve hot.
  • Greens cook done a lot, so plan on 3 – 4 cups of raw greens serving one person.

If you let this sit in the frig, some of the red color will bleed. You can add this to the serving plate if you want more red color.

Amaretti/Almond Meringue Cookies

Amaretti: full of almond antioxidant goodness!

Amaretti: full of almond antioxidant and omega-3 goodness!

This easiest of cookie recipes is from  Baking With Julia, my ultimate baking source.  A light Italian cookie that should be crisp outside and have a soft chewy interior. Amaretti means “little bitter things,” from the practice, common in Italy, of using both sweet and bitter almonds in the dough. Bitter almonds cannot be imported into the United States.

Only 3 ingredients are needed and a pastry bag for piping the dough.  If you don’t have a pastry bag, use a Ziploc bag with a 1/2 inch hole cut in a corner.

It is essential to use ALMOND PASTE not almond filling. Almond paste is thicker and has less sugar.

Almond Paste, Sugar and Egg White is all you need!

Almond Paste, Sugar and Egg White is all you need!

One 8-ounce can ALMOND PASTE (I use Solo brand)

3/4 cup sugar

2 large egg whites, beaten with a fork lightly

  • Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 325 degrees
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment
  • Cut almond paste into 1/2-inch cubes and place in bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment
  • Add 1/2 of the sugar and mix on low speed until paste is in small crumbs
  • Add the remaining sugar and mix until crumbs are very fine, about 2 minutes
  • Add the egg whites in 3-4 additions, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl and beating until batter is free of lumps. Don’t overbeat

Mix Almond Paste and Sugar to Crumbs

Mix Almond Paste and Sugar to Crumbs

Pastry Bag Filled With Dough

Pastry Bag Filled With Dough

Pastry Bag Technique

Pastry Bag Technique

  • Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip or use a Ziploc-type bag with a 1/2 inch hole cut in the corner
  • You can also use a small scoop to form the amaretti, using about a teaspoon of batter for each cookie
  • Make the cookies tiny, one bite size.
  • Place them 1 1/2 inches apart
  • Just before baking each tray, wet a cotton or linen kitchen towel (terry won’t work). Keep it wet, but not soaking wet
  • Fold the wet towel and use it to drap over the cookies, a few at a time, and use an up-and-down motion to pat the cookies with the towel several times, until their tops are smooth, slightly flattened and glistening. This helps produce the crinkly top that is typical of these cookies
  • Bake the amaretti until they are well risen, lightly colored and covered with fine cracks; 10-15 minutes. If you make larger cookies, bake them longer.
  • Transfer the cookies, parchment and all, to cooling racks. Cool completely.
  • Gently peel the amaretti off the paper. If any cookies stick, use a thin spatula to scrap them off, or brush the underside of paper with a little hot water. Give it a few seconds to seep in, then peel off the cookie.
  • Amaretti will be moist and chewy for a few days and then become dry and crisp. Both are delish!

Baby Potatoes with Aioli

Thank you Mary Ann Anschutz for this recipe!

There are two methods of making the Aioli here. The first is using mayonnaise and adding ingredients. The 2nd is the traditional method which uses raw egg.

1 lb baby or small red potatoes

½ cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise or 1 egg yolk & 5 tablespoons olive oil & 5 tablespoons corn oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 cloves garlic

Salt & pepper

Olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley

Aioli 1st method: In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, lemon juice and garlic with a whisk. Thin it out with a little olive oil.

Aioli 2nd method: In a food processor with a metal blade combine the egg yolk, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Blend well. With the motor running add the olive oil & then the corn oil first by drops & then in a slow steady stream until the sauce is thick and smooth. You can also do this by hand with a bowl and whisk.

Set the Aioli aside. It should be the consistency of a sauce so it can coat the potatoes. Quickly add 1 tablespoon water to thin the sauce.

To prepare the potatoes, cut them in half or quarters to make bite size pieces. If they are very small, leave them whole. Place them in a pan of cold water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 7 minutes or just until tender. Do not overcook. Drain and place into a large bowl. While the potatoes are still warm add the sauce and toss well. Let stand 20 minutes to allow potatoes to marinate in the sauce.  Transfer to a warmed serving dish and sprinkle with parsley. Alternatively the Aioli can be served separately, allowing diners to dip potatoes themselves.

Nutrition Note: Vit C rich potatoes with skins retain more fiber & nutrients.

Chocolate Walnut Clusters with Flaked Sea Salt

Thank you Basha Pyzik for this famously popular recipe!

Dark chocolate with at least 60% cacao is best. I prefer 70-86%. You can use the Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Chips to eliminate chopping and measuring. Though breaking up the chocolate bars with your fingers is easy. Chopped coconut may be used in place of the sea salt, but I prefer the flaked sea salt. It’s expensive, so I sprinkle it on carefully.  The bright white of the flaked sea salt looks dramatic next to the dark chocolate. It adds a crunchy mineral taste to the clusters. You need less than a teaspoon for these 50-60 clusters.

Toast the walnuts in a hot oven and then cool thoroughly!

Break the chocolate in pieces before melting in the microwave.

Toasted walnuts, melted chocolate and flaked sea salt are ready to go.

Pour the chocolate over the walnuts in a larger bowl

Mix well with a rubber spatula to completely coat the walnuts. Mix several times through the cluster making process.

Set aside a small container of flaked sea salt

Carefully spoon about 2 walnut halves or so with a teaspoon onto a pan lined with wax or parchment paper.

  • Measure equal parts dark chocolate pieces and walnuts. I use a 12 oz bag of walnuts and 3 – 4 oz bars of chocolate.
  • Toast walnuts in a 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes or until aromatic. COOL thoroughly!
  • Slowly melt chocolate in the microwave until just till barely melted. The chocolate should be thick. If it is thin, let it sit at room temp or cool in the frig until it’s thick. You’ll end up with pools of chocolate beneath the clusters if the chocolate is too thin. Add a little vanilla if you want.
  • Place the toasted walnuts in a larger bowl and pour the chocolate over them. Mix with a rubber spatula to completely coat all the little crevices of the walnuts.
  • Using a teaspoon place about 2 walnut halves in a cluster onto a tray lined with wax or parchment paper.
  • Depending on the size clusters you will make about 50-60 clusters.
  • If you have chocolate left over, add more walnuts to make extra clusters.
  • Carefully place a few pieces of flaked sea salt onto each cluster.
  • Chill in the refrigerator until hardened, about an hour. Other nuts may be used and you may also add dried cherries to the mix.
  • Voila!

Nutrition Notes: Research indicates that the flavanol antioxidants (mostly epicatechin, catechin & procyanidins) increase vascular dilation and improve blood flow, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. The flavanols in chocolate work by increasing the levels and action of nitric oxide, a naturally occurring compound in the body that acts as a vasodilator, increases insulin sensitivity and slows down the artherosclerotic process. The darker the chocolate, the more the flavanols. Cocoa powder contains the most. 60% is good, but 70%  dark chocolate is better. Yes! White chocolate contains no flavanol.

Walnuts are rich in mono and poly unsaturated fats and are a whole plant food fat. They have not  been processed as olive oils and other nut oils, so are not stripped of their natural fiber, vitamins, minerals & phytochemicals. They are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which we do not eat enough

Cantaloupe & Arugula Salad with Spanish Jamon & Cheese

Per each salad layer the following on a serving plate:

5 bite size pieces of cantaloupe

A small handful of arugula that has been tossed with 1 teaspoon olive oil and ½ teaspoon white wine vinegar

1 or 2 small thin slices of Spanish jamon

1 or 2 thin slices, shaved with a vegetable peeler, of Spanish cheese such as Cabra de Murcia

Drizzle with ½ teaspoon honey (you can also mix the honey with equal parts olive oil)

Sprinkle entire salad with ground black pepper

Nutrition Notes: Arugula is one of the dark green leafy vegetables very rich in many antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. Cantaloupe is an orange colored food also rich in these nutrients. The more color, the more the nutrients! The jamon and cheese is high in salt, but the quantity used is very small. No other salt is added here. Jamon is a dry cured ham, similar to proscuitto. This is a small portion that can be used as a tapas. Increase as desirserving size ed for a side salad or entree.