I have read many times, and told my kids many, many times, that for some tastes, a person needs to eat something as many as two dozen times to integrate a complex flavor into one’s palate and truly enjoy it. Finding the correct preparation also matters—a LOT.
Take beets, for example. I never liked the things. In fact, I disliked them… then I listened to a friend and roasted some in olive oil with salt and pepper, and it was like the world of beets was opened to me. I don’t like pickled beets. I don’t like boiled beets. I like roasted beets. I like them, Sam I Am! ;)
Somehow I went from being kinda bummed out when seeing beets in our CSA share to feeling a little excited. No one else in my family really likes them, even roasted, but the share always has just a few. I can eat a few over a couple of days, no problem.
This past weekend I made borscht from scratch, and put it out with Sunday dinner. I will not lie: there were some raised eyebrows. Try it with sour cream, I said. It’s best that way. Again, this was met with visible skepticism. I didn’t even bother to serve some to the kids, figuring it was not worth the wasted soup (more for me, I thought!).
Wow, this is really good! My husband said this, then my father in law echoed it. Bunny, interested, asked to try a spoonful, then asked for her own cup. The boys were oblivious, which is fine. :) I’ve been enjoying the leftovers with lunch the past few days. It’s really a good soup, and you can’t deny it’s very healthy. If you think you hate beets, maybe you should try them a new way, is all I’m sayin’.
Borscht (adapted from Down to Earth, by Georgeanne Brennan)
4 medium to large red beets with leaves attached, 1.5-2 lbs in all
1 cup chopped beet leaves
4 c beef or vegetable broth
1 white or yellow onion, finely minced
1 carrot, peeled and minced
2 large celery stalks,minced
2 T tomato paste
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 c sour cream
chopped fresh dill (I used dried and it was fine—just use less)
Cut off all but 1” of the beet tops. Reserve the youngest, most tender leaves for the soup (chop to measure 1 cup and set aside). Heat oven to 350. Place beets in oven proof dish along with some olive oil and a little salt and pepper, then roast for 1 hour to 75 minutes until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.
While the beets are cooling a little, place broth and next 6 ingredients (through pepper) into a heavy bottomed soup pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, partially cover, and allow to simmer until vegetables are tender and broth has taken on some of their flavor, about 30 minutes.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, slip off their skins with your fingers or a paring knife. Then either julienne, slice, or roughly chop the beets. (I chose julienned.) Add these to the broth and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of dill. Since I used dried dill, I added it into the soup as it finished cooking.