If you want something refreshing and cooling, or you want a bowl of healthy soup loaded with vitamins and minerals, or if you are open to new dishes and want to taste something beyond popular gazpacho, this purple bright summer borscht is for you.
This time of the year good packed grocery stores and farmers markets offer sweet baby beets in bunches. I can’t miss this chance to make a soup from my childhood. Every summer my darling grandmother prepared delicious sweet-and-sour cold borscht for us.
Her recipe is a bit more complicated then my version. Additionally, she never used lemons to make her soup more sour and refreshing, or olive oil – well, she followed her ancestors recipe and there were neither lemons nor olive oil in ancient Russia. Perhaps, her recipe is more authentic, but I have a passion to improve some old recipes trying, whenever possible, to make them simpler, better and up to date. (In fact, I find most old-fashioned recipes kind of awkward and not easy to make). So, today I am cooking my granny’s summer borscht with beet greens my way – contemporary, easy to follow, and equally delicious soup, which can be enjoyed either cold or warm.
For this soup, vegetables can be chopped, sliced, or diced – it is really up to you, depending on what texture you want to achieve. I personally like finely chopped or diced vegetables except for the potatoes – I prefer them in huge pieces, so the borscht won’t be mushy. The ‘mandoline’ type grater helps a lot. Plus a purple chunk of potato looks pretty funky in my soup bowl.
And don’t be afraid of your hands skin discoloration – it will go away while you are making the soup. But the color on a wooden cutting board will stay longer. So, for the beets, I recommend a plastic cutting board.
Here is my recipe. Experiment, enjoy and stay cool!
Wash the beets and peel them with a vegetable peeler. Do not detach beet roots and greens if you using a “mandoline’ type grater or a coarse greater. Grate, dice or julienne the beet roots. Dice the stems of the beet greens. Holding the beet leaves together (or wrap the leaves in a biggest one), thinly slice them.
In a pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté it for 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 45 seconds.
Add the beets, carrots, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, and other spices; sauté them for 5-7 minutes over medium to low heat.
Add the beet greens and about 2 ½ quarts of water (or vegetable stock); bring to a boil; lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are done.
Squeeze lemon juice into the pot.
Enjoy warm, at room temperature or from a refrigerator, serving with dollop of sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and fresh herbs.
Cook with pleasure and enjoy the world!