Thursday, 7 January 2010

beetroot soup recipe (borscht)

I am not sure that I can get away with calling this Borscht as there are so many variations of recipe, by geography, nationality or personal choice.  This is really just beetroot soup, a lovely one that is easy to make. 
beetroot soup
The most difficult aspect appears to be getting hold of decent quality raw beetroot.  If you don't have a farmers market locally, please pass by the hugely expensive bunches at the supermarket and head instead for your local greengrocer.  In my local area, you have to get up early to get fresh beetroot.  This isn't due to its' sell-out popularity, sadly, but because they all sell beetroot pre-boiled but for this recipe, that isn't really what we want.  I try to pop in before 9 and can generally lay my hands on a few fresh purple nuggets, otherwise it is just a case of asking nicely and then collecting the following day.
I am a big beetroot fan and do tend to eat a lot in stir fries, vivid pink sushi rolls and beetroot hummous.  It strikes me that beetroot should be the favourite vegetable of almost every girl from 2 - 12 as they dart in and out of their 'pink' phase, yet my daughter spent years hating beetroot, so much so that we took to hiding it in tomato pasta sauces and stews as well as in chocolate cake.  I  have only just discovered that I like lightly vinegared beetroot, which I have avoided due to memories of sharp squidgy chunks as part of a 1970's Sunday tea at my aunty's house. I was obviously just too young then!  It feels as though we used to visit aunty for tea almost every week, though I am sure that is not the case, as they had pretty busy lives.  Tea was a proper high tea.  Lettuce, tomatoes, salad cream (decanted), sliced bread (yippee!), slices of ham, pickled onions and a really good cup of tea.  I really miss Aunty's tea, it was strong but not bitter, dark yet not full of tannins and I loved the way the spoon clinked the china tea cup as I stirred in the sugar.  Delicious!  It is funny how memories stick in your mind.  At one stage the road collapsed outside their house, leaving a stonking great hole and no vehicle access.  In my head, this huge and slightly ominous hole was there for years ... though I am sure that the council must have filled it in quite quickly. 
snowy bike
Anyway, this recipe starts with my favourite cooking smell: the gently stewing of finely chopped onions, garlic, carrot and celery until soft and scented.   It is an easy soup to make, so jump in, have a go and enjoy the pink!

  • 750g raw beetroot - peel and chop
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 carrot, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1L chicken stock + additional water if required
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
  • salt & pepper 
  • soured cream, horseradish & dill to serve
Gently fry the finely chopped onion, garlic, celery & garlic in the rapeseed oil over a very low heat until soft and aromatic.
Add the heap of peeled and chopped beetroot
Cover with stock and add extra water if required until you have 4cm above the level of the beetroot.
Add a bay leaf if you have one and leave to simmer with a lid semi-covering until the beetroot is soft, around 45 minutes.
Puree the soup then allow to simmer for another 10-15 minutes to thicken and concentrate the flavours.   Season with fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper before serving.
This is delicious served with a horseradish cream and fresh dill.



  1. I know what you mean about getting hold of raw beetroot, it is pretty rare around here. I love to cook beets and serve them with cheese sauce -yum!

  2. The Bear adores beetroot... I shall make this for him. There's always loads in our farm shop.I must try it again.. I'm sure I was just put off by the boiled stuff!

  3. Yummy this soup sounds's so chilly at the moment we've all got icicles almost forming off the end of our noses! A big bowl of this for lunch tomorrow will warm us up!

    For a mega beetrooty hit try a dollop of this:

    (sorry about the shameless plug :-) )

  4. I've never made Beet borscht, even though it's one of my dad's favourite dishes!! Our family actually makes a cabbage borscht, heavenly in itself, but I have to try making this one for the old man... yum!

  5. This looks amazing and easy! I am making my boyfriend an authentic Polish dinner with grandmother's pierogi, kielbasa and sauerkraut recipes. This soup would be a perfect appetizer to kick things off :) Thanks for posting!