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Although everyone has heard about borscht, very few people who are not of Eastern European heritage have actually tasted this satisfying jewel-toned soup. Roasted beets lend their magenta hue and sweet, earthy flavor, along with smoky bacon, cabbage, and rich chicken stock. The sweet-tart addition of vinegar, honey, and green apple at the end of this soup highlights all the other flavors, making it a soup everyone should try. Adapted from the Take-Out Menu cookbook.
- 1 lb medium beet, with tops cut off
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 slices bacon, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 7 cups chicken stock
- 1⁄2 head savoy cabbage, shredded (about 3 cups)
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons honey
- 1 granny smith apple, peeled and grated
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
- 1⁄2 cup sour cream
- Preheat the oven to 400º.
- Scrub the beets and put them on a large sheet of aluminum foil; season with salt & pepper, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Enclose the beets in foil, place them on a baking pan (to prevent dripping), and bake until the beets are tender, about 1 hour. Set aside. When the beets are cool enough to handle but are still warm, peel off their skins and cut them into 1/4-inch dice.
- In a large heavy bottomed pot set over medium heat, add the bacon and cook until it begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the onion, carrots, and parsnips, and cook until the vegetables are softened and just starting to color, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme, stock, cabbage, and beets and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the thyme sprgs. Add the vinegar, honey, and apple. Season with salt & pepper.
- To serve, mix the dill and sour cream. Serve the borscht, hot or cold in bowls, garnished with a dollop of dilled sour cream, and sprinkle with a little fresh dill.
- The soup can be made ahead up to 2 days and kept covered in the refrigerator. Reheat over medium heat if serving warm. Garnish with the dilled sour cream right before serving.