The allure of crimson in the soup – a traditional spring offering across most of Eastern Europe, is matched by the intense flavour of beets and a playful sweet and sour taste.
I cound hardly contain my excitement when I stumbled upon a young beetroot leaves only salad mix at Sydney Fish Market’s Wasterside Fruit Connection green grocer. I picked up a pack along with a bunch of young beetroot, and finally, my craving for a young beetroot soup could be satisfied.
Perhaps because of its peasant origins, the recipe lets nothing go to waste. You get to use the lot: the root, the stems and the greens.
Thickened with a dollop of cream, the soup can be served 2 ways and the following recipe allows for you to try both. Firstly, it can be served more like a hearty winter stew, showcasing all the gorgeous vegetables and greens. The other option is to serve just the broth – a version much preferred during warmer months. Both go well with a side of hard boiled egg or young boiled potato sprinkled with dill.
Being a great fan of the beetroot and goat’s cheese combo, I like to crumble some goat’s cheese feta into either of the versions and in addition to the other toppings. Lastly, to lift the soup a little further I added a good splash of apple cider vinegar. Yum!
Botwinka: whole young beetroot soup two ways
For the soup:
- 6 small beetroot with stems attached
- 150 g baby beetroot leaves, additional, optional
- 2 sticks celery
- 2 carrots
- 1 parsnip
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 3 cups water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon unrefined sugar
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 4 hard boiled eggs
- 4 medium sized boiled potatoes cruched and sprinkled with dill
- 4 tbsp crumbled goat's cheese feta optional
- To make the soup: wash beetroots, stems and leaves thoroughly. Cut off the stems and chop, including leaves, into 1 cm pieces. Peel beetroots, carrots and parsnip (use plastic gloves to protect skin from staining) and dice all into 1cm cubes. Cut celery sticks lengthways and chop into small cubes.
- Heat oil in a large stockpot. Add peeled beetroot (but not the stems or leaves yet), carrots, parsnip and celery and allow to heat through. Add stock and water, bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. At this stage, add beetroot stems, leaves and baby beetroot leaves. Season with lemon juice or vinegar mic, sugar, salt and pepper. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes then turn off the heat.
- In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup of the broth with the sour cream until smooth and add to the pot, stir through to combine.
- To serve the soup "stew-style": ladle vegetables into a bowl and add enough broth to come up halfway up the veg. Serve with a side of boiled eggs, potatoes with dill and crumbed goat's feta.
- To serve the soup "broth-style": strain soup through a sieve into a bowl. Serve with a side of boiled eggs, potatoes with dill and crumbed goat's feta.