Earth Day Borscht

It's loud, it's proud, it's beetroot soup.

Earth Day Borscht
The dark red beetroot soup in this photo is complemented by radish flours, yogurt, and fennel fronds.

The dark red beetroot soup in this photo is complemented by radish flours, yogurt, and fennel fronds.

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than with the the beloved and ubiquitous beetroot soup of Eastern Europe? There are many ways to make borscht, from hot and hearty to cold and demure. Although hot borscht with chunks of beetroot and beef broth is comforting on a wintry day, this cold puréed version might be just what you're looking for as spring moves into summer and appetites are better pleased with brighter, lighter flavors. Serves 6-8.

I’ve always been tempted to make borscht using golden beets, but as they tend to oxidize and turn black more easily, it always makes me nervous - if you ever do it, let me know!
  • 1 pound red beets (about 3 medium), scrubbed cleaned
  • 1 medium onion (about 1 cup), chopped
  • 1.5-2.5 cups chicken broth (if not homemade, then low sodium)
  • About 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup yogurt or sour cream
  • Chopped dill or fennel fronds, for garnish
  • Radish flowers, for garnish (optional)
The beet moves on.

The beet moves on.

Steam beets in a medium-large pot over about 2 inches of simmering water (about 2.5 cups). Cook beets for 20 minutes, add onions to water simmering below beets, and continue cooking until beets are tender when pierced with a fork, about another 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit until beets are cool enough to touch.

Peel beets by sliding off skin under cold running water, dice, and add to the oniony water. Add 1.5 cups chicken broth and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend soup with an immersion blender until smooth, adding more broth and salt as needed. Blend in lemon juice once desired texture has been reached.

Allow soup to come to room temperature then chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. Serve with black pepper, a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, and fennel fronds. 

Borscht is great paired with avocado rye toast dusted with smoked paprika.

Borscht is great paired with avocado rye toast dusted with smoked paprika.