Beet Soup AKA "Beet Borscht"

Beet Borscht is a cold beet soup served up with thick sour cream – this is a typical Russian delicacy and is a celebrated delicacy in the culinary repertoire of Eastern European Jews.

Sela eating Borscht

This recipe is so simple. For years and years I had no idea how to make beet borscht and all my husband could talk about was how good his Mom's beet soup was. Well, I took that as a challenge and when his Aunt came to stay with us, I sat her down in the kitchen and learnt the secret of making the perfect, traditional Russian borscht. Now our three year old grandson (isn't he cute?) loves his borscht!

8-10 medium sized beets
1 tsp. lemon salt (also known as sour salt or citric acid) OR
1 tsp salt and juice on 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 additional cup sour cream for serving
OPTIONAL: chopped chives for serving

1. Trim the tops and bottoms of the beets. Wash the beets well. Do not peel.

2. Place the beets in a large pot and cover with tap water.

3. Bring the water to a boil and simmer for about 50 minutes or until the beets are cooked through.

4. Remove the beets from the pot and let them cool a few minutes. KEEP THE BEET WATER in the pot.

5. Remove the peel from the beets – it just slips off under running water.

6. Grate/shred the beets on a course grater.

7. At this point you will have a pot of murky red water and a whole pile of shredded cooked beets. You can take about a cup of the beets aside and use it later for salad by adding lemon, salt, olive oil and chopped chives. All the rest of the shredded beets get put back in the pot with the water. (That bit about the salad is optional, you know).

8. Add sour salt (or salt and lemon) and sugar.

9. Bring the pot to the boil and simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes.

10. Test-taste and season with salt lemon and sugar, to taste. It's hard to know exactly how much sugar to use as some beets can be very, very sweet themselves. Keep adding sugar and lemon until it tasted right to you.

11. Stir in 1 cup sour cream and heat through. If you are satisfied with the flavouring, remove the pot from the heat and allow the soup to cool.

12. Chill the borscht for at least 5 hours or overnight.

13. Serve the beet soup with a good helping of beets in each bowl, a healthy dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chives (optional).

14. My Dad likes his borscht with a HOT boiled potato floating in the soup – try it… it is actually really good!

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