When I was growing up, my mother often made a beet soup that she called Borscht, and it was a traditional Christmas Eve offering. She always made her borscht the same way every time, but now I know there are a number of varieties of borscht, including some that don’t include beets at all. My variation on the traditional Borscht is that I roasted the beets rather than boiling them. The beets are sweeter, and the flavor is more concentrated.
- 2 pounds beets, scrubbed
- 1/2 pound carrots, peeled
- Olive oil, as needed for drizzling
- 2 quarts chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
- 1 red onion, diced
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Sour cream
- Cucumbers, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- Heat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Put the beets and carrots on the baking pan and drizzle with the olive oil. Roast until the vegetables are fully cooked, about 45 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetables. It’s fine if they’re a little under-cooked, since they’ll cook further in the soup.
- When the vegetables are roasted, slice the carrots into thin rounds. Peel the beets and slice into matchsticks.
- Put the stock (or water) into a Dutch oven and heat on medium. Add the onion, carrots, beets, and cabbage shreds. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
- Add the vinegar and several grinds of black pepper, and taste for seasoning. If you used a stock that contained salt, you may not need to add more. If you used an unsalted stock or water, you’ll need salt for sure. You can also add more vinegar, if desired. This shouldn’t be a puckery soup, but it should have a slight tartness.
- Continue cooking until all the vegetables are cooked through, about 30 minutes. The carrots will turn almost red and the shreds of cabbage will take on color as well.
- This makes a rather chunky soup as opposed to a brothy one. If you like your soups thinner, add more water or stock and adjust the seasonings as needed.
- To serve, add a dollop of sour cream to each bowl and stir it in. The soup will turn a bright purple-pink. Garnish with the cubes of cucumber and serve. If you like, you can pass the sour cream and cucumbers at the table and let your guests