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Beet Soup

Above is a beet soup made with grated beets and no greens and below it a beet soup with julienne sliced beets and greens. Same recipe, but different beet prep. The recipe makes about 4 1/2 quarts.

I have made many variations of beet soup, also known as borsht. Borsht is a Russian soup that’s a 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 this 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. 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! 

Ingredients

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 water to make a thicker heartier soup. Use 16 cups water makes a lighter soup, my preference

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

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 small bunch fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dried dill, but fresh is much better

Salt if desired

Instructions

  • Trim off stems and leaves from beets. Reserve the stems. Use the leaves to make a Beet Salad. Look up my recipe. Or cut the greens in julienne strips and add to the soup at the very end.
  • Wash the stems and cut them into 1/2 –  1 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. 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 greens if you like. 
  • Cool and store in the frig for a full 24 hours so the flavors meld. 
  • 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!

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.

Cold Beet Soup

This is a soup my Russian grandmother used to make. It’s all vegetables, no meat and served ice cold! It’s the Russian version of Spanish gazpacho and salamorejo!

You can add more of the ingredients you prefer. It’s slightly sweet sour, but you can add more of the vinegar and sugar if you want. Garlic, green onion and dill are other strong flavors you can increase. If you want a chunkier soup, add more beets and cukes!

No sour cream in this recipe!

 

The cold borsht above has the leaves and stems. The borsht below does not have them.  


  

6 beets with stems and greens (you can omit the greens and stems and use 8 beets)

3 cucumbers, not too thick because those are seedy

8 green onions

1 bunch dill fronds, left whole

2 very large cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons white wine or rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

Trim the beet stems and leaves from the beet root. Wash all thoroughly in a sink of cold water. Scrub the beet roots with a brush. 

In a very large pot, place the whole scrubbed beet roots and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer until a fork can just slightly be inserted. Don’t over cook. They should be slightly crisp.

  
Lift the beets out of the beet water with a large spoon and place in a colander to cool. 

Place a mesh strainer lined with a paper towel or coffee filter over a large bowl. Pour the beet water over the filter into the bowl.  Reserve strained beet water and cool.  This is the broth. There should be about 8 cups or so.

To make a filter, fold a paper towel in half crosswise and in half again.

   
   
Cut up the beet stems into 3 inch lengths. Cut the larger greens in 1/2 or 1/4s. Place stems and greens in a medium pot. Add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Simmer only a minute or so. Strain the liquid through the paper toweling and reserve the greens and stems in a bowl to cool.

  
  
Peel the beets with a paring knife. Cut in 1/2, then slice and then cut into julienne strips or small cubes. Reserve in a bowl.

   
    
   
Wash and peel the cukes. Slice and julienne or cut into lengthwise quarters or eights and then slice into small bites. Reserve in a bowl.

  
Wash and slice the green onion. Reserve in a bowl.

Mince the very large clove of garlic. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the 2 tablespoons of salt and mince to a paste. Reserve.

  

In a very large bowl with a lid or a pot combine all the ingredients with a spoon. Add more salt, sugar, vinegar, garlic, green onion to taste. Cover and chill overnight and serve ice cold with a whole grain European style bread. Leave the dill in the container. Don’t add it to the serving bowl.

  
This is so colorful and nice to look at I like to store it in clear glass quart size canning jars in the frig. Enjoy!

Raw Beet Slaw with Fennel, Tart Apple and Parsley

This was beautifully prepared by one of our dinner club friends, Steve Kin, for our get together last night. It’s a Better Homes and Gardens recipe and is sweet, tart and fresh! We all loved it, except the beet-haters 🙂

Raw Beet Slaw

Raw Beet Slaw

Use a mandolin if at all possible. And protect your fingers with the hand guard too.

In a small bowl combine:

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon or orange zest

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a medium bowl toss together:

2 medium beets, peeled and cut into matchsticks

1 fennel bulb, trimmed, halved lengthwise, cored and cut into matchsticks

1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into matchsticks

1 cup firmly packed roughly chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Pour the dressing over the slaw and toss. Chill up to 8 hours. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Red Russian Soup/ Borsht

 

This is a blend of my grandmother, Donna Haluska Korzin’s recipe, and a recipe from the cookbook, Soup, A Way of Life, by Barbara Kafka, 1998Mrs. Kafka’s family and my grandmother were both from villages outside of Minsk, Belorussia.

Borsht is a soup made from a mixture of vegetables, often whatever is in your frig. There is a lot of cabbage in this soup, but the beets predominate because the color is so intense and the water the beets are cooked in is added to the soup.

This recipe makes about 5 and a half quarts. Cut the recipe in half if you’d like. I never do because it freezes well. 
The soup is a sweet sour style. My grandmother added sour salt or citric acid instead of the vinegar. Sometimes she would add sorrel or what she called “sour spinach” from her garden.

 The natural sweetness of beets varies. Use less sugar as desired.

  

Red Russian Soup/Borsht

Red Russian Soup/Borsht

 

  • 3 pounds beef pot roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 4-6 inch chunks
  • 4 medium to large beets, (about 2-3 lbs) all but 2 inch of stems removed, reserve detached stems and leaves
  • 1-28 oz can chopped canned tomatoes
  • 1 medium head cabbage, cored and cut into 1 ½ inch squares or strips (about 9 cups or less if you prefer less cabbage)
  • 4 carrots, (about 1/2 pound) peeled and cut across into ½ inch rounds
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 8 medium to large cloves garlic, smashed and peeled only
  • 3 bay leaves or more
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2-¾ cup sugar
  • 1 handful fresh dill weed, coarsely chopped
  • 6 or more whole allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons kosher coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

Serve with sour cream

  • Place meat in a large pot and cover with 10 cups cold water
  • Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer very gently for 2 hours or until meat is tender.
  • Wash the beets with a scrub brush and soak the leaves and stems in cold water
  • While the meat is cooking, in a medium stockpot, place beets in enough cold water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer until beets can be pierced with a knife. Don’t over cook.
  • In a large bowl place a mesh strainer and a layer of cheesecloth or heavy duty paper toweling. Strain the beets into the colander and bowl. Reserve liquid
  • Trim beets and remove the skin. Cut into large matchstick strips and set aside.
  • To the beef broth add onions, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, garlic, allspice, red pepper flakes and bay leaves.  Cover and bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes or until carrots are almost tender.
  • Add beet strips to the soup and simmer 10 minutes.
  • Cut the beet stems and leaves in 2 inch lengths
  • Add the beet stems and leaves to the soup and simmer 10 minutes.
  • Stir in reserved beet liquid, vinegar, sugar, dill, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on the lowest heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow flavors to blend at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • Reheat soup. Float 1 tablespoon or more sour cream on top of each bowl of borsht if desired.