I have read more variations of this recipe than you can shake a stick at (there is even a green sour version made with sorrel instead of beetroot that is simply called Green Borscht), so don't crucify me if this is not the way your granny made it
call for a beef broth base, some not. The beetroot can be boiled separately for an hour before chopping it, or if finely chopped it may be just tossed in with the rest of the veg. Sometimes the onion and carrot are sautéed first as I do, or alternatively boiled up along with the potatoes. Kidney beans and tomato paste may be used instead of the baked beans, or the beans omitted altogether. Tomato is not necessarily used......
Don't pressure cook this soup. You need to be careful not to turn the veg into soft mush. Dill is necessary for the classic flavour, but substitute it for parsley or omit it if greens are just not available. It just begs for a dollop of sour cream or at least thick yoghurt, but this can of course be left out if you are avoiding dairy or none is on hand.
The beetroot flavour is very subtle. It is nothing like vinegar laden tinned beetroot so don't even think about using this as a substitute for fresh beets
This is the SWL version
. I make it often as all the veg are locally grown here in Greece
and in season they are usually readily available in even the smallest family
run grocery. The colour is to die for. My unique addition is a teaspoon of whole peppercorns. They give an occasional beautiful peppery bite.
1 tbl oil
1 onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 medium beetroot, peeled, sliced very thinly and cut into matchsticks
About 6 cups water
2 stock cubes (I use chicken, but vegetable would be fine)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp whole mixed peppercorns (or just season with ground pepper at the end)
1/2 medium head
cabbage, cored and shredded
400g can whole tomatoes (the colour will be an even deeper purple without)
1 tsp sugar (brings out the flavour of both the tomatoes and beets)
400g can baked beans (or drained kidney beans or no beans)
and pepper to taste (I find neither is usually needed)
Handful fresh dill (or parsley)
Sauté the onion and carrot.
Add the potato, beetroot, water
, stock cubes, bay leaves and peppercorns.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the cabbage, tomatoes, sugar and beans and more water if there is room (I use a 3 litre pot)
Continue simmering until the veg are done. Don't overdo it or the intense colour will start to dull.
Season to taste.
I find this soup really improves with standing a day or at least several hours. The colour of the beetroot then permeates all the vegetables completely and the flavours develop. When the soup is done and while it is still simmering, I ladle it into four 700g sized glass jars and immediately seal. It lasts well for at least a week unrefrigerated in anything but summer.
Before serving the soup, reheat it, add a few tablespoons of chopped dill, ladle into bowls, (dollop with sour cream or thick yoghurt if using) and top with a sprig of dill.
Serve with rye bread or warm soft rolls. A shot of vodka is optional