This is a peasant favorite of both Poland and Russia. This is a very simple recipe, can be served with a dollop of sour cream. To make a more substantial dish, add a hot boiled potato and a sprinkling of fresh dill to each plate. Serves 6.
4 or 5 medium beets with their greens
1 large onion
1-1/2 t. salt
Juice of 1 large lemon
2 to 3 T. brown sugar
Boiled new potatoes (optional)
Chopped fresh dill (optional)
Step 1. Scrub the beets well (their cooking water will be used in the soup) and cut off the leaves. Cover the beets with water, partially cover the pot and cook the beets briskly for 30 to 40 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a sharp knife.
Step 2. Meanwhile, trim the stems from the beet greens, chop the leaves fine and set aside. Peel the onion and grate or finely chop it. When the beets are done, remove them from the water and let them cool a bit. Slip off the skins and grate the beets by hand or in a food processor. Measure the beet juice and add enough boiling water to make 8 cups. Bring the liquid to a boil and add the grated beets and onion. Simmer 5 minutes. Add the salt, a tablespoon or so brown sugar and 3 or 4 tablespoons lemon juice and stir well.
Step 3. Taste the soup and adjust the balance of sweet, sour and salty to your taste. Remember that when the soup is cold, the flavor will not be as strong, so add plenty of seasoning. Serve either cold with sour cream or hot with boiled potato.