Unless you are already a lover of borscht, you probably won’t believe me when I tell you that this soup — despite all rumors to the contrary — is straight-up delicious.
Well, okay, I can’t speak for all varieties of borscht, and apparently there are many — hot and cold, maroon and magenta, with cabbage and without, from a jar and from a can, accidentally-vegan and very-not-vegan, and even with beets and without. But I am a lover of beets, and this simple, cold version is almost entirely comprised of those deep red gems. No, it doesn’t taste earthy; peeling fresh beets before cooking them rids them of any bitterness, and boiling them until they’re soft brings out their lovely, natural sweetness. Stock and a single onion fill out this soup’s flavor, kicking it a few steps above beet juice and into the category of “summer meal staples.”
One bit of advice, though: this is a particularly ill-advised dish to eat at work, especially when you’re the kind of person who eats on your lap rather than at a table like an adult, and mysteriously obtains a new grease stain on your work clothes during your morning bicycle commute every few days without fail. (Yep, that would be me!) I probably shouldn’t be allowed within a thousand feet of cooked beets, much less a highly-splashable fuschia dish like this one. But just last week I ate this soup on my lunch break three days in a row and somehow managed to return to work without a single telling mark. As you can see, I was also inordinately proud of myself. It was like cheating death!
…It’s the small things, really.
- 4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 5 c water
- 6-8 large beets (around 3″ in size), halved
- 4 c vegetable stock
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered, but with the root end intact
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- Boil potatoes until tender; drain liquid and refrigerate until well chilled.
- In a large pot with a heavy bottom, bring water and beets to a boil.
- Once water is boiling, reduce heat and simmer beets just until tender.
- Turn off heat and remove beets from pot, retaining the liquid.
- In a food processor, shred beets.
- Return shredded beets to pot.
- Add stock and onion to pot and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer soup for 40 minutes, or until onion is tender.
- Add remaining ingredients and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
- Remove onion and adjust salt, sugar and lemon juice to taste.
- Refrigerate overnight.
- Serve chilled, over potatoes.
- Top with vegan sour cream if desired.