Borstch for me means a pureed beetroot soup, sometimes with onion and garlic, sometimes with tomatoes and/or red peppers. By fluke, as far as I was concerned, my beetroot order from Ocado (ie M&S) brought two huge turnip-looking beetroot that turned out to be golden inside. I boiled them and the flavour was incredible, very sweet and with none of the earthiness in the flavour that I associate with this favourite of vegetables. Roasting squashy cherry tomatoes and a couple of Romano red peppers and a few unpeeled shallots balanced the flavours beautifully. I happened to have ham stock (from boiling up the Christmas ham bone with carrots, onions and leek flags which jellied spectacularly and tasted incredible) but it is still worth making with chicken stock cubes.
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 40 min
400g golden beetroot
2 Romano red peppers
about 20 cherry tomatoes
1.2kg chicken, ham or vegetable stock
squeeze of lemon
Wash the beets without snagging the skin and boil, covered, in salted water until tender; my 2 large beets took 35 minutes. Drain, cool slightly then remove skin etc and coarsely chop. Meanwhile, turn the oven to 170C/gas mark 3 and place red peppers, un-peeled shallots and tomatoes on a foil-lined, shallow roasting tin. Roast in the hot oven for 15 minutes, turn the peppers and cook for a further 15 minutes. Remove the peppers to a plate, cover with a stretch of clingfilm. Tomatoes should be squashy and the shallots tender, if the shallots need a bit longer cooking, tip the tomatoes into a liquidiser bowl and return the shallots to the oven for a further 10 minutes or so. Add beetroot to the liquidiser bowl, adding peeled, de-stalked and seeded peppers – don’t worry too much about the seeds, they can be strained out later. Add the stock and liquidize. Pass through a sieve to catch any stray pips into a pan, heat through and fine tune the flavour with salt and lemon. Serve borscht-style if liked, with a dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream and a garnish of chives or dill. Or just with crusty bread and butter to dunk and slurp.