My entire family is obsessed with red borscht—the kind that looks almost radioactive in color and conjures up memories of Mother Russia. That’s why I’m here to make a case for borscht this summer. Although it doesn’t get as much hype, this cold beet soup is just as refreshing as its hip Spanish cousin gazpacho and only slightly more time-consuming to make.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pound red beets, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, roughly grated
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 Roma tomato, roughly grated
- ½ bunch dill, chopped
- Optional: Sour cream for garnish, vodka for drizzling
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add vegetable broth and bay leaf, and heat until simmering. Add beets, cover the pot and cook until beets are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and carrot and cook over a medium heat, stirring until the carrot starts caramelizing. This is a distinctively Ukrainian “sofrito” technique called “smazhenie.” Add tomato paste and sauté for 2 minutes. Then add the grated fresh tomato. Stir, reduce slightly, then add to broth. Stir together, simmering for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Refrigerate until cold. Stir in dill. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a little drizzle of vodka for seasoning.