This was one of my favorite dishes that my mom made when I was a kid. We used to eat it with blintzes on the side. This is not traditional Russian hot borscht which has meat, cabbage and potatoes, but cold simple beet borscht, served back in the day with sour cream, Meyer lemon juice and a spoonful of sugar.
I roasted the beets before boiling them, for a deeper flavor. I’ve added the beet greens for more body and nutrients, as well as a bit of salt, dill and lemon zest for flavor. Since I’m watching my waistline, I added nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Not quite the same, but not bad either.
2 3/4 cups mild vegetable broth (see below)
1 bunch of 2 large beets, leaves included
1 Meyer lemon (a regular lemon will do if you can’t find a Meyer)
A few shakes, dill weed, salt, sugar, to taste
Trim “tails” and stems from beets. Scrub beets well. Line a covered container with foil (to prevent baked-on beet juice), then place beets in with ¼ cup of water, cover and roast at 400 for 40 minutes.
While beets are roasting, make vegetable broth. (You can do both a day ahead of time.)
3 1/2 cups water
1 large leek, dark green parts trimmed
2 large stalks celery. chopped
1 parsnip or 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 sprig parsely
1/2 tsp dried thyme, or several springs fresh thyme
1/4 tsp dried dill weed, or several springs fresh dill
Several grinds black pepper
3/4 tsp balsamic vinegar to taste
Salt to taste
Bring water to boil in medium pot. Trim outer dark leaves from leeks. Slice lengthwise into quarters, then chop crosswise and rinse thoroughly several times in a salad spinner
Rinse and chop celery and peel and chop parsnip or carrot. Thinly slice shallot and garlic clove. Add all vegetables to boiling water with herbs. Simmer for 25 minutes. After it cools, strain through a sieve into a bowl, pushing on the vegetables with a large spoon.. You should have approximately 2 3/4 cups left.
While broth is booking, rinse beet leaves thoroughly: first rinse, then soak in a salad spinner for about 10 minutes in warm water, then rinse several more times. Chop them finely.
Remove beets from oven and let cool. Peel them under running water. The peel should come off easily, revealing the jewel-like beets. Grate them on the large part of a box grater. Unless you have a pair of thin gloves handy, prepared for hot pink hands!
Bring vegetable broth to a boil and add grated beets and greens. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Grate lemon zest (the yellow part) on a fine grater into the soup, and then squeeze in the lemon juice. Stir in vinegar, a few shakes of dill weed, ¼ tsp salt to taste and 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp sugar to taste. Let borscht cool, then refrigerate. You can also serve it room temperature.
Serve with more lemon juice and sour cream. (or substitute plain Greek yogurt for a low-fat alternative.)