Beetroot and me – we don’t gel quiet well. But recently DH took fascination for them. Much to my dismay, beetroot are his new-found love. When he cuts it into julienne for regular table salad, no doubt the long thin strips of beetroot looks devilishly appetizing. With a generous squeeze of fresh lemon all over it, which beautifully offset the sweetness of beetroot, and generous scattering of handful of crumbled feta, the salad was almost instant hit. But unfortunately for me, after a small serving of this beautiful gorgeous salad once or twice, the earthy flavor of beets are off-putting. I like their crunchy ness when they are eaten raw but once they are cooked or steamed, it lost its punch. Indian recipes don’t incorporate beets very well, I have tried curries and stir fries but they have failed to impress me.
So every weekend when four dusty beetroot with their long purple stalk comes to live with us, I frantically searched my recipe repositories and the internet for some new recipes to try with them. Thus how I have come across this beetroot soup, Borscht – the Russian style simple beet root soup.
Growing up in the hills of Himalayas, winter produce were abundant with root vegetables like carrots, radishes, turnips and beet. The last two made their way into the meat dishes that my parents used to prepare in winters. The mutton stewed on hearth for long hours with potatoes, turnips, beetroot and loads of Indian spices like garam masala. The beet gives the mutton stew a beautiful and gorgeous color. The charcoal adds the smoky touch to the dish and soon it become a staple in our home. Now, while going through the recipe for borscht, it looks surprisingly similar to me, beef and beet stew with lots of staple vegetables.
I am not sure, both the recipes might have shared a common lineage or it may be the human adaptation to environment to survive in cold winter months, but even if you have love-hate relationship with beetroot like me, you are still going to love this a lot.
The soupy september series that I am doing right now, is focussed mainly on vegetarianism, hence I have opted for vegetarian version of this beetroot soup. The stock have been prepared with dried mushroom and fresh dill. There are millions of versions to make this soup, and I guess the vegetables that are being added to this soup is pertaining to the respective regions where it had originated or travelled from one geographical border to another.
The flavor of this beetroot soup is complex, sweet and savory. The vinegar or the lemon juice cuts off the inherent sweetness of the beetroot and the carrot. The potato adds as a thickner here. The flavour of this beautiful and gorgeous soup matures, improves and taste better after a day.
To puree or not to puree is another difficult decision for me. If you are not pureeing it, then take extra care to cut the vegetables in similar sizes, julienne it or chopped it, uniformity is the key here. The soup if not processed in blender, gets a nice texture from the vegetables and the meat. Without meat, I would prefer this in semi-pureed version, with a dollop of sour cream and fresh dill.
This soup recipe has been adapted from the book – The Soup Bible
- Beetroot : 2-3 (chopped)
- Potato : 1 medium (chopped)
- Carrot : 1 cup chopped
- Mushroom (dried or fresh): 1cup chopped
- Red bell pepper : ½ cup chopped
- Onion : 1 cup chopped
- Celery : 2 stalks chopped
- Garlic : 1 tbsp minced
- Fresh dill : few sprigs
- Salt and pepper as per taste
- Butter / Olive oil : 2 tbsp
- Bay leaf : 1
- Cider vinegar / red wine vinegar / white vinegar / Lemon : 1-2 tbsp
- Water : 3 cups or more
- Sour cream for garnishing
- Warm the butter in the soup pot and throw in onions, celery and garlic. Let it sweat for couple of minutes.
- Add the beetroot, carrot, potato, mushroom, red bell pepper. Saute them lightly.
- Sneak in one bay leaf into the pot. Tie up the twigs of fresh dill with kitchen twine and palce it in the soup pot.
- Sprinkle salt over it. Add the water. Cover and let it cook on low heat for half an hour or till the vegetables are tender.
- Remove the bay leaf and fresh dill sprigs.
- Strain the vegetables and reserve the liquid.
- Semi -puree the vegetable in the blender, with the vinegar or lemon juice.
- Return the vegetables to the pan, add the reserved stock and reheat it.
- Check the seasonings.
- Serve hot or warm, garnish with sour cream and fresh dill.
Happy soupy days ahead!