I love beets. I know many people hate them, but really, I love them in pretty much any incarnation. They are good sweet as in my favorite Beet Pie (or Ruby Tart as it is otherwise known) sour as in my favorite pickled beets. Roasted, baked, boiled or steamed, or raw as juice or in salads, beets are good pretty much any way. And they are also really good for you - raw beets are full of antioxidants including vitamin C and are great source of fiber, folates and vitamin A (especially if eaten raw). And the color of beets is one of my favorite in the world. I wish I had lipstick that color...
Since it's been so hot this summer, I haven't been doing much cooking at home (I know, excuses, excuses), so the other morning R and I went to Teresa's - a Polish restaurant in Brooklyn Heights. I generally think of Teresa's as a winter food place - perogies, blintz, stew - heavy Eastern European food. But one thing stood out on the menu on this hot steamy day in Brooklyn: Cold Borscht. It was cold, refreshing - a revelation and an inspiration. The next stop for me was the farmer's market at Boro Hall to get some beets to make my own.
But looking through my recipe archives, I realized I didn't really have a good recipe. In my experience there are several different variations of Borscht: My favorite hot borscht from B&H Dairy in the East Village (especially good if you ask them to do half borscht, half split pea) is chunky with, large lima beans. Some recipes for cold borscht call for mixing in sour cream or yogurt so it is creamy and pink. My favorite cold borscht is clear, with some pieces of beet, and has lots of dill with a vinegar finish. That was the borscht that I set out to make. Definitely take some time to adjust the vinegar/lemon juice level to your taste.
6 medium beets, peeled and quartered
1 medium or two small red onions
1 small clove garlic
6 cups vegetable stock or 6 cups water and 2 vegetable bouillon cubes (11g each)*
(salt, if not using bouillon)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup of a mix of rice vinegar and/or apple cider vinegar (I used both)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Fresh dill, chopped
Hard boiled eggs
Chop the onions and garlic and in a large soup pot, saute briefly in the olive oil. Add the peeled and quartered beets, the broth or water. Cover and bring to a boil, skim the foam, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until beets are tender. Remove from heat. Remove the beets from the pot and let cool. Grate the beets in a food processor or by hand, then add back to the broth (you may not end up using all of the beets in the soup. Save the ones you don't use and add them to a salad or eat them on their own). Add some chopped dill, then add the lemon juice or vinegar and salt to taste. Cool completely then refrigerate.
Before serving, add more vinegar/lemon juice (if necessary) and chopped dill. Peel hard boiled eggs, cut in half. Ladle some cold soup into a bowl and float half an egg on top. Garnish with more dill and pepper.*Generally I like to use homemade stock, but when I don't have any on hand, I really like Organic Gourmet Vegetable Bouillon. It has great flavor and no MSG. The regular ones are fairly salty (with sea salt), so you won't need to add extra salt to this recipe.