Each year, our family friends the Shapiros have us over for lunch on the second day of Rosh Hashanah. It is a meal I look forward to for a long time: a warm atmosphere, great company, and fantastic food prepared by the talented Ruth Shapiro.
The menu always features borscht, a traditional chilled beet soup garnished with cucumbers and radishes and served with warm potatoes and a dollop of sour cream. The dish may seem awkward at first to the uninitiated, but the contrast of cool beets, creamy sour cream, and hot boiled potatoes has won me over.
The dish can be made ahead most of the way. Ruth roasts, peels and shreds the beets, simmers them into soup form, and chills the soup in the fridge, all well in advance. At lunch time, all that remains is to boil some potatoes, slice up some veggies, and ladle soup. It’s a great dish for a special occasion lunch.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the unpeeled beets in a small baking dish and cover it tightly with foil. Wrap the onion in foil. Roast the vegetables until they are soft, about 1 hour. Let them cool slightly.
- As soon as the vegetables are cool enough to handle, slip the skin off of the beets and peel the outer layers off of the onion. Quarter the onion, put it in a food processor with a cup of water, and process until pureed. Put the coarse shredding blade into the processor and shred the beets.
- Put the onion and shredded beets in a pot with 2-3 quarts of water. Heat to a simmer. Add the sour salt, sugar, and salt, and stir until dissolved. Taste and adjust seasoning, diluting the soup with more water if needed. Remove the soup from the heat and chill it in the fridge.
- When you are almost ready to serve, boil the potatoes and start assembling your bowls. Slice the cucumber and radish into thin matchsticks. Thinly slice the scallions and chives. Place the cucumbers, radishes, and scallions into soup bowls and add a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle the chives on the sour cream.
- Ladle the soup on top of the vegetables, making sure each bowl gets a good amount of beets. Serve chilled with a bowl of warm potatoes on the side. Enjoy.