If you are anything like me, it has never occurred to you to make borscht. I adore beets, but for some reason I have always thought that borscht was, to be perfectly frank, totally obsolete. Thank goodness I love to experiment, because today I was humbled by this classic Ukranian dish.
The ultimate reason to make this borscht: This incredible combination of ingredients might never come together under any other circumstances. The soup was rich an flavorful and yet light, and the lemon and dill cream was the perfect accompaniment.
I created this recipe by looking at several classic borscht recipes and picking and choosing what I liked. This is a cold version, but could just as easily and deliciously be served warm.
Borscht with Lemon and Dill Cream:
1 bunch red beets, trimmed and washed (4 plum-sized beets or 2 orange-sized beets)
1 nice tomato, quartered
1 Tbsp. olive oil PLUS 1 Tbsp. butter
1 small white onion, small dice
1 large carrot, small dice
1/2 a small head of savoy cabbage, finely chopped (green cabbage will work, too)
2 tsp. caraway seeds
2 tsp. sherry vinegar
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
plenty of salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1 C. sour cream or Greek yogurt
zest of 1 lemon
Trim the tops off of the beets, rinse them and place them into a large pot of cold water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cooking for 45 – 60 minutes or until fork tender. While still hot, run the beets under cold water and slip off the skins. Trim off any tough bits, quarter the still warm beets and place in a blender with the tomato and 2 cups of the broth. Puree until smooth (start the blender out on low!) and then pour into a large bowl.
Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil and butter. Saute the onion for 3-4 minutes, stirring regularly until starting to color, add the carrots, cabbage and caraway seeds and cook for 3-5 more minutes until the cabbage is starting to soften. Add enough of the remaining broth to just barely cover the cabbage, stir in the vinegar, sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Pour the cabbage mixture into the bowl with the beet puree. Add any remaining broth and stir well to combine. Add 1 Tbsp. of the dill and season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill the soup for 2 hours or until cold.
For the Lemon and Dill Cream:
Combine the sour cream or yogurt with the remaining 1 Tbsp. of chopped dill and the lemon zest and stir together.
The soup can be served chilled or can be re-warmed on the stovetop. Serve each bowl with a large spoonful of the lemon and dill cream.