Beet season is back, and oh boy is it bountiful. Aside from their long shelf life, the best thing about beets is that you can use the entire plant, stems and all, with each part providing a unique plethora of nutrients.
However you choose to cook them, beets are packed full of folates and B-complex vitamins, and are rich in phytonutrients known as betalains. Betalains provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support. So get your beet on with this vegetarian-friendly spin on traditional borscht. Served hot or chilled, this soup will either warm your soul or liven your spirit, depending on what you’re craving. And don’t be afraid to get creative with herbs! Beet soups are often prepared with dill, but I had a ton of rosemary on hand and discovered that the two make a lovely pair.
- 1-1.5lbs red beets, trimmed and scrubbed
- 1 large carrot
- 1 medium size yellow onion
- 1 big sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp salt + more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- dash of turmeric (because, why not!)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup stock or 1 bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup water
- Juice from one lemon
- A handful of freshly chopped parsley, dill or chives to garnish (your choice!)
- ½ long English cucumber, diced (for topping)
- 4-5 cups filtered water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In an ovenproof dish fill 1 inch with water and add the beets and cover, roasting for 45 min – 1 hour, until tender. Allow to cool and remove the skins, they should slide right off. Alternatively, you can peel the beets and cook them directly in the soup pot with the carrots and onions, but it’s just going to add more cooking time. I prefer the rich, robust flavor of beets when roasted in the oven, so I tend to do this part in advance. Roasted beets with the skins left on will keep in the fridge just fine for several days.
In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the onion, allowing it to “sweat” until it begins to soften. Add the carrots and stir, cooking for 3-5 minutes until barely tender. Next add the garlic and rosemary, stirring 30 seconds until nice and fragrant, and then add the stock or bouillon, mixing until well combined, creating a nice, flavorful base for the soup.
When the beets are cool enough to handle and are peeled, cut into half moons or cubes and toss them into the pot with a dash of turmeric, the salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Drop in a bay leaf and add enough water to just barely cover all of the vegetables. Bring to a boil first, before lowering the heat back down to a simmer. Cover, stirring occasionally for 25-30min. Chef’s note: if the beets were not roasted in advance, your cooking time could take twice as long. You know when the beets are done when they’re nice and tender.
Discard the bay leaf and remove from heat, allowing to cool slightly. Squeeze in the lemon juice and taste for seasonings, only adjusting if necessary.
Whisk in half the (optional) yogurt, then puree the soup in a high speed or emersion blender until smooth and creamy. Return to either the pot or a large bowl and chill 15-20 minutes in the fridge. This soup tastes great hot and fresh, but is even more flavorful when chilled.
Once ready to serve, pour into bowls, garnishing with another small spoonful of yogurt (again, optional) and some diced cucumber. Finish with chopped herbs of your choice and season once more with black pepper. If you’ve got Himalayan pink sea salt on hand, a pinch of this at the end would be lovely.
By: Andrea Rice