Winter Beet and Vegetable Soup

There’s something very satisfying about a hearty homemade bowl of soup on a cold winter day.  Borscht is a soup I grew up with, and it’s still one of my favorites.  I love it hot, never cold, and I like to make it a main course dish with the addition of country-style pork ribs.  Roasted beets and garlic add another layer of flavor to the soup, as does the requisite garnish of sour cream.  This is a very easily improvised soup, some cooks add potatoes and tomatoes, so feel free to use what you have in the refrigerator.  Fresh dill and parsley add brightness to the finished soup, along with a good dose of lemon juice.  Here is my version of beet and vegetable soup:

Winter Beet and Vegetable Soup
(makes about 4 servings)
1 small bunch fresh beets (2-3 medium beets) with greens attached
1 pound of country-style pork ribs (with ribs attached)
2 large garlic cloves
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
6 to 8 mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced
1/2 small head of green cabbage, core removed and thinly sliced
about 6 cups good quality chicken stock
juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
fresh dill (or dried dillweed), chopped
fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
sour cream or creme fraiche, for ganish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Trim the green tops from the beets (reserve these for adding to the soup later), scrub the beets and place them in a small baking dish (lined with foil, if you like).  Drizzle a little oil over the beets and add the garlic cloves, still in their skin.  Cover the dish tightly and roast in the oven for about an hour, or until the beets are just tender.  Simultaneously, place the pork ribs in a small, oiled roasting pan.  Season with salt and pepper, cover, and roast in the oven until tender and fully cooked.  When the beets, garlic, and pork are done, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool a little.  In the meantime, heat the vegetable oil in large soup pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat.  Add the onion and a large pinch of salt, stir, and cover.  Cook the onion until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the sliced carrots and mushrooms and continue cooking until the vegetables are slightly browned around the edges.  Stir in the cabbage and cook until it begins to wilt, then add the chicken stock and dried dillweed (about 3/4 teaspoon) and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer the soup for about ten more minutes.  When the beets are cooled, slip off the skins and cut them into 1/2 inch dice; add to the soup.  Remove the garlic cloves from their skins and mash them slightly, add to the simmering soup.  Cut the pork into medium dice and add to the soup. ( If you like, you can serve the small rib ends of the pork, intact, in each bowl of soup.  It’s a bit messy to eat, but very good.  Otherwise, just cut the meat from the bones and add it with the rest of the pork).  Rinse the beet greens, stack them up and slice them crosswise into thin ribbons.  Add these greens to the soup, taste and adjust for salt, and simmer until the vegetables are tender.  Just before serving, add the lemon juice, adjust again for salt and pepper, and serve.  Garnish each bowl with some sour cream and fresh herbs (if you have them).  Serve with rustic country-style bread.


Leave a Comment