What Do You Do With Beets?
Don’t you just love the beautiful color beets give to everything they come in contact with?
Well, maybe not your fingers.
Then it’s a little disconcerting when the red just won’t come out.
But to everything else, beets bring such beautiful color!
Especially to a comforting bowl of beet soup!
The Many Faces Of Borscht
Borscht is a popular soup in many Eastern and Central European countries. And, while the soup’s ingredients (and spelling) vary by region, beets are the common thread throughout.
- Ukrainian borsch, which is thought to be the original, includes potatoes, mushrooms, cabbage, tomatoes, and a variety of beans.
- Russian borscht will commonly include cabbage and potatoes, as well as meat.
- The basic Polish barszcz includes onions, garlic, carrots, and celery.
Often for Polish barszcz, the soup is strained after cooking to produce a pure, red broth. This glassy broth is eaten with uszka, or mushroom-filled dumplings. It is this version of borscht that is commonly found on a traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner tables.
But that’s not the version of borscht we’re talking about today.
Our Polish Barszcz Recipe
The most traditional recipes for Polish borscht start by fermenting beets and using the resulting sour fermenting liquid (much like the sour rye mixture use to make Polish white borscht).
This sour liquid, combined with the sweetness of cooked fresh beets and vegetables, gives the soup its characteristic sweet and sour flavor.
Since most modern kitchens don’t tend to have beets fermenting on their counter, and fermenting beets adds a bit of time to the preparation process for this soup, many modern recipes will skip the fermented beet portion of the borscht recipe. Instead, they will either leave out the sour element to the soup or use some vinegar (and/or a sour cream garnish) to add the sour flavor in.
For our barszcz recipe, we are using apple cider vinegar to give the soup its characteristic sour flavor. And (as a bonus), it really nicely plays up the sweetness of the beets.
How To Make Beet Borscht
Borscht really is such a simple soup to make. Peeled and cubed beets are cooked with a variety of vegetables, giving of a beautiful color and wonderful aroma.
Some recipes will have you cook your beets first by either roasting or boiling, before peeling them and adding them to the soup.
We prefer to peel the raw beets and cook them right along with the rest of the veggies, in the traditional Polish fashion.
Not only do you skip a step, making this soup come together incredibly quickly, the raw beets add such a beautiful, deep color to the borscht.
And, since we like our soups hearty, we’ve left the veggies in our finished borscht.
How To Serve Polish Borscht
Since we like to keep our veggies in our beet soup, it’s hearty enough to serve as a main dish along with a good, fresh loaf of really crusty bread.
If you’d like to serve this soup as a first course or appetizer, smaller servings work great. Or, you can strain out the veggies and serve the clear borscht in a more traditional Polish fashion as a first course.
First course or main dish, a dollop of sour cream in your bowl adds a nice bright contrast and a creamy smoothness to round out the texture of this flavorful, brothy soup.
If you’ve never tried beet soup, you really must! It’s a winter staple in our house!
And, if you can’t get enough of those beets, try this chilled beet soup for warmer days!
- 1 Tbsp salted butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 medium beets, peeled and cut into 1/2 -1 inch pieces
- 2 carrots, cut into rounds
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 2 whole allspice berries
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 c beef stock, (we prefer low sodium)
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- Pinch salt
- Sour cream and dill, (to serve)
- Melt butter in a large soup pot. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium high heat, until the onion is soft (5 min).
- Add beets, carrots, celery, allspice, and bay leaf. Stir to coat with butter.
- Add stock and bring to a boil. Cook until the vegetables are tender (10 min).
- Remove the pot from the heat. (If desired, you would strain the vegetables from your borscht now.) Stir the vinegar, sugar, pepper, and salt into the broth. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as desired.
- Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of dill, if desired.
This recipe from 2013 was updated in October 2017. We made the soup even tastier! Enjoy!
Serving Size:2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 147
This is one of the recipes from the early days of Curious Cuisiniere. We’ve updated our pictures since we first shared it, but we’ve left some originals here, in case you’ve found us in the past and are looking for that old, familiar image.
If you liked this recipe, here are some similar dishes you may enjoy!
Sarah is one of Curious Cuisiniere’s founding duo. Her love for cultural cuisines was instilled early by her French Canadian Grandmother. Her experience in the kitchen and in recipe development comes from years working in professional kitchens. She has traveled extensively and enjoys bringing the flavors of her travels back to create easy-to-make recipes.