Beet Soup, Version 1
1 medium red onion
4 cloves garlic
Six stalks of celery
6 fresh beets, with greens
4 purple potatoes
Six cups of beef broth
2 tablespoons sunflower or safflower oil
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish
1. Chop onion into slivers. Peel and crush garlic, then chop finely. Halve each celery stalk, then chop finely. Set aside, each in separate bowls
2. Cut the stalks, close to the base, from the beets, set aside. Scrub beets under water. Peel beets with a vegetable peeler. Then chop beets into small cubes. Set aside in a bowl.
3. Scrub potatoes under water, then chop into small cubes (keep the skin on). Put cubes into a bowl and cover with cold water.
4. Cut the leaves from the beet stalks. (Save the leaves for another recipe. They are great sautéed with garlic!) Chop the beet stalks into quarter inch pieces and soak in a bowl of cold water to remove dirt. Drain and repeat. Set aside in a bowl.
5. In a large frying pan, heat up the oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until almost caramelized, approximately 20 minutes. Add one tablespoon of butter, then add celery and sauté for 10 more minutes. Add salt and pepper. Add garlic and sauté for 5 more minutes.
6. In a stockpot, combine the ingredients from the frying pan with the beef broth. Heat up to boil, then reduce to simmer. Keep uncovered. The goal here is to reduce the broth by about one third.
7. Add the chopped potatoes, along with the water, to the stockpot. Bring back to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
8. After about 20 minutes, sauté the beet stalks with one tablespoon of the oil in the frying pan over medium heat. Sautee until soft, at least 20 minutes but could be up to 40 minutes depending on how crisp the stalks are. Once the stalks are soft, ladle in about one cup of the broth from the stock pot. Simmer over low.
9. Drain the contents of the stockpot into another pot through a sieve. Empty the sieve into the frying pan with the beet stalks. Using a potato masher, crush the contents (potato, onions, garlic, celery and beet stalks) until they are thick. It’s ok if it’s not fine. The stalks will probably not relent to being crushed, this is ok. If you prefer a finer soup, you can put it into a blender (but I prefer a chunky soup so I would never do this).
10. Add the mashed ingredients from the frying pan back to the soup stock and mix thoroughly. Heat just to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. The soup is going to look a reddish brown at this point but never fear, once the beets are added, it will turn red.
11. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the frying pan on medium heat. Add the beets. Sauté for 30–40 minutes, until soft, yet still firm. Add a tablespoon of butter and sauté for five more minutes.
12. Ladle in a cup of the soup from the stockpot to deglaze the bottom of the frying pan, then pour everything from the frying pan to the stockpot. Simmer for 20 minutes.
13. Ladle soup into bowl, add a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle chopped parsley over top. Enjoy!