Easy borscht can't be beet

Posted8/21/2012 12:00 PM
  • Borscht, an Eastern European soup that starts with cabbage and beets, can be served warm or cold.

      Borscht, an Eastern European soup that starts with cabbage and beets, can be served warm or cold. Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

I guess you could say I am a latecomer to the whole beet thing. It's not that I didn't like them. I just didn't know them.

Actually, I associated beets, along with gravlax, herring and cod fish balls, with my Norwegian grandparents. Those foods were best avoided.

Beets, as it turns out, are pretty tasty. Not only that, it appears beets now are getting their turn in the food spotlight.

According to The Salt, National Public Radio's food blog, last year was a pretty good year for beta vulgaris.

Daniel Zwerdling writes: "Some farmers markets say beet sales have surged since January, and they've doubled over the past few years. And it seems like every restaurant across the country serves beets these days -- especially the ubiquitous beet salad."

Does all this constitute a beet renaissance?

Irwin Golman thinks so. He breeds beets at the University of Wisconsin, where he's a professor of horticulture. He has been waiting for this renaissance for years.

"I think it's just wonderful to see because it's just an incredibly fabulous vegetable that I think is totally underappreciated," he says.

I couldn't agree more and, to that end, decided to make … borscht, of course!

There is a very easy recipe in "The Big Book of Soups and Stews" by Maryana Vollstedt and I made it even easier by using pre-shredded coleslaw cabbage. The hardest part of the whole recipe is cutting up the canned beets without making a mess of epic proportions in your kitchen.

Beets, after all, do stain things, especially clothing so don't wear anything you care about when preparing them. If you do manage to stain something, ehow.com has a good article on how to remove the stain, using bread of all things. After rinsing the stain with cold water, soak a piece of white bread in ice water and press it down over the stain. Wait a few minutes and the stain should be gone.

In any event, give this soup a try. It is good both hot and cold, but definitely needs a dollop of sour cream when served either way.

• M. Eileen Brown is the Daily Herald's director of strategic marketing and innovation, and an incurable soup-a-holic. She specializes in vegetarian soups and blogs at soupalooza.com.

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