The taste profile was like none other I had tasted. Sour, salty, tangy, earthy and rich with a hidden creaminess that caresses your tongue. I sat at the dining table across from my husband licking my spoon at Domacin Wine Bar suddenly dreaming of creating my own bacon borscht. Having no positive experiences with beets in the past, I welcomed the challenge to re-create this amazing dish. Beets are one powerhouse root vegetable and as a gal who lives through harsh Minnesota winters, I take my root veggies seriously. Beets are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients (responsible for their crimson red color). The consumption of beetroot and their greens has historically been used to treat a myriad of diseases. Both the beetroot and its greens have a dense nutrient profile rich in anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties. They are also reported to strengthen your immune system and boost your stamina.
I researched the basics of cooking beets and quickly decided upon a combination of traditional borsht ingredients of beets, carrot, onion, and potato (Note: scrub those beetroots with a vegetable scrubber to get any remaining dirt off or you’ll end up with tiny crunchy dirt particles in your bacon borscht). Then, I added a homemade tomato sauce as well as pancetta to the mix to arrive at the right balance of savory salty goodness. I chose to use pancetta simply because it’s already chopped up into nice little bits but feel free to use bacon slices. You’ll just need to do some dicing. I enhanced the smokiness of the pancetta by using a smoked salt in this recipe but a nice sea salt or pink Himalayan will also work well. To get the creaminess in this soup, I blended a portion of the vegetables with the broth. Top the soup with scallions, extra bacon crumbles and a dollop of sour cream or plain coconut milk yogurt.
The entire beet plant can be eaten so chop up the greens and blend into a salad or sauté with herbs and olive oil for an iron-packed and incredibly healthy side dish to this bacon borsht.
- 4-5 beets
- 8 cups water (or use 4 cups water and 4 cups beef broth)
- 2 white potatoes, peeled and diced
- 4 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into small rounds or diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups tomato sauce or puree
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dill
- 1-2 teaspoons salt, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Scrub beets and trim off the top and root tail. Submerge in water and boil for 1 hour. Once soft, take beets out of water. Keep the water. After they are cool enough to touch, rub the skin off and dice them.
- While beets are boiling, sauté the pancetta, onion, carrots, and garlic in olive oil until pancetta is cooked through and vegetables are softened.
- After beets are removed from the pot of water/broth, place diced potatoes in the same water and boil until soft.
- Place ½ of the beets and ½ of the sautéed pancetta and vegetables in a blender and puree with 1 cup of the broth (taken from the saucepot).
- Pour the puree and the cooked vegetables back into the pot with the potato.
- Add remaining ingredients and simmer 30 minutes to blend the flavors.
- Serve hot or cold with scallions, extra bacon bits and sour cream (or plain coconut milk yogurt for dairy free) on top.