Beetroot Soup or Barszcz

 So I have grown up eating this famous Polish soup and we tend to eat is at Christmas time.  My mother is Polish and this is one of our food traditions that we keep up and I love it!  There is something so velvety and wonderful about this beautiful, deep purple liquid that makes me want to jump right in with a white jumper and jeans.  So naughty but so nice!  It takes a little time so please make it for a special weekend or a starter for a dinner party.  Serve it with some flaked feta or goat’s cheese on top and some toasted rye bread for mopping up.  gf/df  serves 4  Ingredients:  2.5 litres hot stock, a mix of chicken and vegetable  14 garlic cloves, unpeeled  2 red onions, roughly chopped  1 leek, roughly chopped  3 sticks of celery, roughly chopped  1.1kg beetroot, about 12, topped and tailed  Few sprigs thyme  2 tsp caraways seeds  1 tsp cumin seeds  1 tsp honey  1/2 glass red wine  2 tbsp balsamic vinegar  2 tbsp red wine vinegar  6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil  Handful of parsley, finely chopped  sea salt and black pepper  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking tray with baking parchment.  Divide the beetroot and wrap one half in two layers of tin foil tightly with 2 table spoons of olive oil drizzled over.  Place into the tray and along side the foil package add the garlic cloves with another table spoon of olive oil.  Make sure the cloves are evenly coated and place the tray into the oven for 10-11 minutes or until the cloves have gone all soft and squidgy inside.  Remove the cloves and put to one side and continue to cook the beetroot for about another 50 minutes before removing from the oven and leaving to rest for 10 minutes.  While the beets are baking in the oven you can start on the rest of the soup.  Set a large saucepan to a medium to high heat and add the remaining olive oil.  Once its hot add the chopped onions, leek, celery, thyme sprigs, caraway seeds and cumin seeds.  Mix it all around the pan for a few minutes just to soften and then pour over the red wine and let the alcohol burn off.  Roughly chop up the remaining beetroot adding it to the pan and then cover over with the hot stock bring to the boil.  Press down each the roasted garlic cloves to release the flavour and throw them into the pot unpeeled.  Once boiling bring down to a gentle simmer for about 40 minutes.  Use a stick blender to roughly mix everything and then cook it for another 10 minutes.  Carefully pass the soup through a sieve and add it back to the pan.  Open the beetroot package and tip the cooking juices into the soup.  Carefully peel the beets and slice them up into pieces adding them into the soup.  Season the soup with salt, pepper, honey and the two vinegars and taste checking it doesn’t need anything else.  Serve hot with a dollop of yoghurt on top with a few crumbled walnuts.

So I have grown up eating this famous Polish soup and we tend to eat is at Christmas time.  My mother is Polish and this is one of our food traditions that we keep up and I love it!  There is something so velvety and wonderful about this beautiful, deep purple liquid that makes me want to jump right in with a white jumper and jeans.  So naughty but so nice!  It takes a little time so please make it for a special weekend or a starter for a dinner party.  Serve it with some flaked feta or goat’s cheese on top and some toasted rye bread for mopping up.

gf/df

serves 4

Ingredients:

2.5 litres hot stock, a mix of chicken and vegetable

14 garlic cloves, unpeeled

2 red onions, roughly chopped

1 leek, roughly chopped

3 sticks of celery, roughly chopped

1.1kg beetroot, about 12, topped and tailed

Few sprigs thyme

2 tsp caraways seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp honey

1/2 glass red wine

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Handful of parsley, finely chopped

sea salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking tray with baking parchment.  Divide the beetroot and wrap one half in two layers of tin foil tightly with 2 table spoons of olive oil drizzled over.  Place into the tray and along side the foil package add the garlic cloves with another table spoon of olive oil.  Make sure the cloves are evenly coated and place the tray into the oven for 10-11 minutes or until the cloves have gone all soft and squidgy inside.  Remove the cloves and put to one side and continue to cook the beetroot for about another 50 minutes before removing from the oven and leaving to rest for 10 minutes.

While the beets are baking in the oven you can start on the rest of the soup.  Set a large saucepan to a medium to high heat and add the remaining olive oil.  Once its hot add the chopped onions, leek, celery, thyme sprigs, caraway seeds and cumin seeds.  Mix it all around the pan for a few minutes just to soften and then pour over the red wine and let the alcohol burn off.  Roughly chop up the remaining beetroot adding it to the pan and then cover over with the hot stock bring to the boil.  Press down each the roasted garlic cloves to release the flavour and throw them into the pot unpeeled.  Once boiling bring down to a gentle simmer for about 40 minutes.  Use a stick blender to roughly mix everything and then cook it for another 10 minutes.  Carefully pass the soup through a sieve and add it back to the pan.  Open the beetroot package and tip the cooking juices into the soup.  Carefully peel the beets and slice them up into pieces adding them into the soup.  Season the soup with salt, pepper, honey and the two vinegars and taste checking it doesn’t need anything else.  Serve hot with a dollop of yoghurt on top with a few crumbled walnuts.

Nina ParkerComment