“Gazbortcht!”: When Beets, Summer and Fall Collide

Terry here, and perhaps this past Tuesday I had the opportunity to hand you a little cup of a tasty soup that’s someplace between refreshing summer gazpacho and hearty fall borscht. If not, and you’re wondering what to do with a bunch of beets, some cilantro and one of those gorgeous beefsteak tomatoes (easily one should be enough for this recipe,) then I’m hoping you’ll consider this soup.

Gazpacho Borscht, “Gazbortcht!”
Serves 4-5

Revamped just for the Forest Hills CSA from our hit Veganomicon, this hearty yet fresh tasting beet-tomato-cucumber-cilantro soup tastes great chilled or served warm. If desired garnish with bits of roasted corn.

Tip: Trim the beets of greens and roots, then use a vegetable peeler to remove any patches of thick, woody skin. Any bits of thin skin are okay left on the beets.

3 cups of loosely packed, shredded, peeled beets
3 baby leeks, ends trimmed and finely sliced
5 cups water or tomato juice
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cucumber, chopped
2 cups chopped tomatoes (remove core, seeds okay)
1 white onion, peeled and diced
1 inch thick slice crusty white peasant-style bread
3 tablespoons good quality olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
additional sea salt and ground pepper to taste
pinch sugar (optional)

1. In a large pot combine shredded beets, water, tomato paste and salt. Partially cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Beets should be tender but still have some crunch. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

2. Place cucumber, half of the tomatoes and half the onions in a blender. Add 2 cups of cooked beets plus liquid, bread, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Pulse a few times to create a chunky mixture. Add remaining cucumber, tomato, onion and the cilantro and pulse only one time so that the soup is chunky.

3. Stir the blended mixture into the remaining cooked beets. Season with salt and pepper and if desired, sugar to taste.

Serve either chilled or slightly warm.

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