Botvinka – Red Beet Leaf and Herb Soup
Once my garden produces an abundance of fresh herbs and vegetables, the time is right to cook Botvinka. Soups are very popular in Eastern Europe, and are the first course of a lunch of dinner meal, just like tossed salads in the US.
The name for this soup derives from the description of the tops (botvinka (in Polish)- leaves and stalks) of very young red beet plants, which are the major ingredient in this soup. This dish is full of goodness of fresh, young, green leafy vegetables, and because they are so tender, they require very short cooking time.
I prepared this recipe in a vegetarian style, but you can use chicken, or beef, broth as the base, if you prefer it that way.
- 10 cups of water
- 2 Tbs. salt
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ cup onion, chopped
- 2 Tbs. canola oil
- 2 medium potatoes, coarsely grated
- 2 carrots, coarsely grated
- 2 Tbs. butter
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 cup chives, chopped
- 2/3 cup Dill Weed, chopped
- 1 cup red beet stems, chopped
- 2 cups red beet leaves, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh Parsley, chopped
- 1 Tbs. Maggie Seasoning
- 2 Tbs. Tomato Paste
- ¼ cup sweet cream (half and half, heavy cream, or whole milk)
- ¼ cup Sour Cream or Oikos Organic Greek Plain Yogurt
- 3 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- Fill a soup pot with 10 cups of water, add salt and bay leave and start cooking.
- Chop up the onions and sauté for 2 minutes in canola oil.
- Chop the garlic and add to onions, add the butter, and sauté another minute.
- Add onions and garlic to soup stock.
- Prepare all your vegetables:
- Rinse and pat dry all vegetables.
- Remove any damaged leaves and stalks. Cut off thins roots from any beets attached to stalks.
- Coarsely shred potatoes and carrots.
- Chop the red beet leaves (botvinka), chives, dill, and parsley. Set aside.
- Add potatoes and carrots to soup stock, bring to boil and cook for 10 minutes
- Add all remaining vegetables, and cook another 2 minutes.
- Mix tomato paste with cream/milk until smooth, and add to the soup.
- Bring to boil, and cook for 1minute.
- Add pepper, Maggie Seasoning, and Balsamic Vinegar.
- Cook for a minute and turn off the heat.
- Put sour cream in a cup, and add some hot soup stock (2 Tbs.) at a time, and keep on mixing it until it looks smooth, not lumpy.
- Add to the pot of soup. DO NOT boil again, because the sour cream with curdle.
You can serve with chopped dill, and a spoonful of sour cream as a garnish.