Davyd and my sister Lisa and I were living in Bath all pursuing our Master's degrees. In England, you can get your degree in one year, so the three of us packed up what we would need for twelve months, and moved into a cozy third floor Georgian mansion flat. It was centrally located in Bath on the Avon Canal and looked out toward the hills where sheep and cows grazed.
We all participated in food shopping and cooking meals, and it was not long before each of our individual cooking skills began to take shape. My sister had a knack for baking everything from cookies to savory pies, such as her onion, cheese, and tomato specialty pie. Davyd was the master of cooking meat. And I was the queen of making soups.
I soon came across a recipe for beet soup from a blog called Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska. To this day, if you just Google "beet soup moose" it will be the first result. I had negative associations with "borsch," but this soup looked delicious. It had bacon, and you served it with a dollop of sour cream. I decided you couldn't go wrong.
We roasted the beets drizzled in olive oil in our microwave/oven. This contraption, by coincidence, hung above the washer/dryer all-in-one machine.
Gardener's Beet Soup
- 1 cup diced bacon
- 1 cup diced parsnips
- 1 cup diced carrots
- Chopped kale to taste
- Chopped cabbage to taste
- Chopped spinach to taste
- 1 cup red wine, or to taste
- 1 1/2 cups diced celery
- 1 1/2 cups diced onions
- 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 6 cups vegetable or beef stock
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 4 medium-sized beets, roasted and diced
- 1 1/2 cups finely shredded cabbage
- Sour cream
- Minced dill
Step 1: Roast the beets
Note: This can be done beforehand, as they can keep in the refrigerator for about a week.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wash the beets, cut off the greens leaving an inch of stem (don't cut into the beet itself), rub the beets with olive oil, and wrap tightly in a foil packet. Bake for 40 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the beets and how fresh they are. The beets are done when they're tender if poked with a knife or skewer. Let the beets cool, and slip off their skins.
Step 2: Make the soup
Sauté the bacon in a Dutch oven until the fat has rendered and the bacon begins to brown. Add the parsnips, carrots, celery, and onions, and sauté until the onion softens. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Stir in the stock, tomatoes, ketchup, wine, beets, cabbage, kale, and spinach. Bring to a boil, cover, turn down the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through and the broth is flavorful.
Serve the soup immediately, topped with a dollop of sour cream and minced fresh dill.
You can also choose to let the soup cool, and then freeze it in small batches for an easy winter dinner.