Beet Borscht

A bunch of uncooked beets.

We love beets. Not only are they colorful, tasty and tender, but they’re packed with nutritional benefits—Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, folate, manganese and more—and are low in calories as well. You can even cook the greens, the way you do Swiss chard—they’re cousins.

This is one of the recipes Jan is cooking with her class at Rancho La Puerta this week. Her next teaching appearance is the Commit to Change weekend on Martha’s Vineyard, March 29-31.

Serves 10-12

10 cups water
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 medium-sized beets, cut into 3” pieces
3 medium-sized carrots, cut into 3” pieces
1 large potato, cut into 3” pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into thin slices
12 whole juniper berries, a bay leaf and about 5 sprigs of thyme, wrapped in cheesecloth
2 cloves garlic
1/4 bunch fresh dill, minced
Juice of 1 whole lemon
1 Tbsp. honey
2-3 tsps. salt
Dash freshly ground pepper


10 slices avocado
10 Tbsp. sour cream or strained yogurt (1 per bowl)
Fresh dill sprigs
Squeezes of lemon juice

Peel the beets and cut them into equal-sized pieces so they cook evenly. Heat a l-gallon pot over medium heat and add 3 Tbsp. oil, chopped onion and cheesecloth bundle of bay leaf, thyme and juniper berries. Allow to sauté for a few minutes. Add the water. Add beets to the water and then the carrots, potatoes, celery and garlic.          

Cook about 30 minutes at a soft simmer. Once your beets are cooked, scoop them out of the soup with a strainer. Remove cheesecloth bundle and discard.

Place beets in a blender or food processor with 1 cup of the broth from the soup, adding just enough liquid to blend the vegetables. You may need to do this in batches.  

Reheat for 10 minutes and add the dill, lemon and honey. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve hot or cold,  dolloping each serving with sour cream, a slice of avocado, a sprig of dill and a squirt of lemon.

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