There is a lot of controversy about Borscht soup, from where it comes from to what it might contain. There is vegetarian version, ones with meat stock, kosher, non-kosher, fermented, with cream, without cream and so on and so forth!
But all the recipes I found were some old-fashioned. The inclusion of sugar for one, seemed totally unnecessary with such a sweet vegetable. I decided to set out to make one which I wanted to eat. I agree that my pureed version is not classic and that it should be clear, with the beetroot grated or chopped up in the broth. But I wanted to intensify the beetroot flavour by roasting it first. So I suppose I should call it Chilled Roast Beetroot Soup and leave it at that. The addition of horseradish sour cream, which I stole of Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall is inspired although he serves his soup hot and not chilled. I leave it up to the weather on the day to make up your minds.
Chilled Roasted Beetroot Soup with Horseradish Sour Cream
2 onions, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 litre vegetable/chicken stock or water and a stock cube
Splash of red wine vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the horseradish sauce
3–4cm piece of fresh horseradish, peeled and freshly grated (or 1 tablespoon creamed horseradish)
200ml soured cream, crème fraîche or thick, plain (full-fat) yoghurt
Freshly chopped dill or chives
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Scrub the beetroot well but leave them whole. Wrap each beetroot in tin foil and put on a tray I the oven. Roast until the beetroot are tender when pierced with a knife – about an hour depending on the size of the beetroot.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and cook gently for about 15 minutes, until just beginning to caramelise. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes more.
Meanwhile, make the horseradish cream: in a bowl, mix the grated (or creamed) horseradish with the soured cream, crème fraîche or yoghurt. Add a good pinch of salt to taste.
Remove the foil from the beetroot and when cool enough to handle, peel or rub off the skins – they should slip off easily. Roughly chop the beetroot.
Add the chopped beetroot to the onions and cover with stock. Puree with a hand-blender and add plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper and vinegar, to taste. Chill the soup and serve with a dollop of the horseradish cream and the chopped dill or chives scattered on top.