Chilled Borscht 2

Beets. One of nature’s most beautiful veg – often misunderstood or worse, overlooked. I was lucky enough to be exposed to them since I was a kid. Loved them then. Love them still.  They were so important to our kitchen table, we grew masses of them on the farm and I can still picture the rows and rows of jars, filled with Mom’s homemade pickled beets; tart, sweet, served at dinner, a delicious condiment to most meats. 

I can still recall when bringing home friends, how many of them did not know what Beet Soup/Borscht/Barszcz was. In fact, I think most of them had never even tasted a beet! (Of course, when you’re a kid, you find this strange! I used to assume that all the kids in school grew up like me…)

Common to most Eastern European cuisines, every culture has their version of a ‘beet soup.’ I always considered my Mom’s Polish version, Barszcz, THE best. (See my post from December 2011, for the story and recipe!) In later years, it remained a festive and most welcome addition to Christmas visits, when we descended at Mom’s for the holidays.

 Peeled and ready, leave some of the stalk attached. It’ll make a great ‘handle’…

Even the peelings are beautiful…

Chilled Borscht

For a client request, I adapted my Mom’s hearty recipe, to make this lovely summer version. This makes enough for four generous servings and will keep, covered in the fridge for several days; it also freezes very well. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt on a hot summer day, it makes a refreshing addition to any lunch or dinner menu.

Beets, 2 lb
1/2 medium onion
Chicken stock, approx 5 cups
Red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons
Salt, 1 teaspoon
Pepper, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground
Sugar, to taste, 1 – 2 teaspoons, depending on the sweetness of the beets

With gloved hands, peel the beets, leaving a few inches of stem for a handle. Best tip: peel directly into an open bag – will save on clean up!
Cut them into quarters, or halves if smaller.
Get the medium sized, deep sauce pan you`re going to cook the soup in, and put it in your sink; this will help not only while grating, but also with clean up afterwards.
Still wearing gloves, grate the beets and onion directly into the pot; **watch for splatters; wipe immediately or risk staining!
Add chicken stock and vinegar, then bring to the boil.
Add salt and pepper, then turn down to a simmer and cover.
Cook for approx. 25-35 minutes, or until beets are tender.
Taste at the end, and if you want a little sweetness, stir in the sugar until dissolved.
Let cool, cover and store covered, in the fridge.

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