A week or so ago I harvested beets from the garden.
When I was a kid my mom would make borscht a couple of times a year, and I loved it. I LOVE* beets in all preparations, so its not surprising that a simple beet soup would be one of my favorites. Though part of my ethnic make-up is eastern european, borscht is not something that my family ever made, its just something my mom adopted for her cooking repertoire. There are lots of variations on the recipe. Some people use beef broth as a base, some people puree the soup at the end, some people eat it hot, some cold. Our version is really simple, and we leave it un-pureed, and eat it hot, with extra caraway seeds and a dollop of sour cream as garnish. Here is our recipe:
5 medium beets, peeled and diced into half inch chunks
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced as above
1/2 small onion, diced finely
1/2 of a small cabbage, finely sliced
1 tsp. marjoram
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1 Tsp. vegetable oil
salt & pepper to taste
appx. 8 cups water
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and add onion and allow to soften. Add beets and potatoes and cook for a couple of minutes. Add cabbage, marjoram and caraway and cook for a minute or so. Add water, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and allow to cook until beets and potatoes are soft and tender, about 1/2 an hour. Serve with good crusty bread-- rye or pumpernickel are especially appropriate. Garnish with more caraway seeds and a dollop of sour cream.
*When I was in Italy a few years ago my favorite anti-pasti was roasted or steamed beets with parmiggiano cheese grated on top. I was so happy at the easy availability of pre-cooked beets at all the super markets, that my friends actually packed me off onto the over-night train from Paris to Milan with a package of beets as a going away present.