There seem to be as many versions of borscht as there are species of plants. I like cold borscht to be smooth and spicy and topped with sour cream. My husband looks forward to this soup each summer, and so in our house this recipe serves only two!

SERVES 6 AS A FIRST COURSE

8 medium beets (or two 16-ounce cans)

1 cup beet cooking liquid

1ВЅ cups tomato pure

Juice of 2 lemons

A few dashes Tabasco

1 small onion, minced

Salt to taste

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup sour cream

Minced fresh parsley for garnish

  1. Cut the beet greens off the beets, leaving 1 inch of their stems attached, and leave on the root ends. This ensures that the beets won’t bleed profusely and you’ll get optimum color. Scrub with a vegetable brush under cold running water to remove all the dirt. If using canned beets, reserve 1 cup of beet liquid and proceed with step 3.
  2. If the beets are approximately the same size, then put them in a large pot and cover with water (otherwise cook them in stages, that is, start cooking the larger ones first and add the smaller ones after a while). Bring to a boil and cook, covered, for about 1 hour, or until tender when carefully pierced with a sharp knife. Drain very well and reserve the beet liquid. Let sit until cool enough to handle, then peel them.
  3. Coarsely chop the beets and put them in a blender or food processor with all of the remaining ingredients except the sour cream and parsley, and blend until smooth. If the soup is too thick add a little more of the reserved liquid. Pour into a bowl and chill very well. It is a good idea to chill your serving bowls also.
  4. When ready to serve, taste to adjust the seasoning. Serve in bowls and top with a spoonful of sour cream and some minced parsley.

NOTE: If you have fresh-looking beet greens, then serve them as a side dish at another meal. Rinse them very well, steam or saut them, then stir in some sour cream.