Polish Creamy Beet Soup {Barszcz Czerwony ze Śmietaną}

This is yet another rendition of a Polish beet soup. Poles love beets and so we make them into a vast variety of soups, chłodnik or botwinka being just a couple.

This is one of my favorite soups. I was always very intimidated by cooking it because I know how difficult beets can be. If not done right, they lose color and look unappetizing, and I lose the desire to eat them. But when done right, they are vibrant in color, sweet and earthy in taste. My family always made this soup out of beets that have been canned at home. The water the beets sat in would draw some of the color from the beet without changing color of the vegetable. Added to the stock turned it deep vivid red, gorgeous.  Using canned beets would also provide a nice shortcut, but it requires prior preparation. I don’t often can beets, so had to come up with a way to make the soup without the shortcut, but also without losing the flavor or color of this beautiful vegetable. I was able to accomplish this by baking the beets first, skin on, and not boiling them in the stock. This method preserves the color. It may sound like it’s a long process but not really once you do it. It’s mainly waiting. So very much worth it!

Beets in this soup, combined with the flavor of chicken soup and the creaminess of the whipping cream, become subdued and create a perfect combination of sweet, creamy and savory. With the addition of onion-spiked mashed potatoes, this dish will have your family members asking for more.

Polish Creamy Beet Soup {Barszcz Czerwony ze Śmietaną}

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Prep Time: 1 hr
  • Cook Time: 1-2 hrs

Ingredients

  • 1/2 of a chicken (or bone-in parts)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1/4 of a burnt onion*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 peppercorns (whole)
  • 5 allspice seeds
  • 1 tsp of salt **
  • 8 cups / 2 liters of water
  • 5-6 medium or large beets
  • 3/4 cup / 175 ml of heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup / 120 ml of vinegar (5%)
  • 3 russet potatoes (about 1/2 of a potato per person)
  • 2 tbs of butter
  • 1 onion

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.

  2. Rinse chicken and place in a pot with carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, all spice, peppercorns and salt. Boil on medium-low for about 45 min (until meat comes clean off the bone).

  3. In the mean time, cut stems off beets, wash them and bake covered until soft (about 45 for medium sized beets).

  4. Peel potatoes, cube and boil in salted water until soft. Dice the onion and sauté in butter until golden brown. Mash the potatoes and after adding sautéed onion (butter and all) stir to combine. Add salt, if needed. Set aside.

  5. When chicken is cooked, remove everything from the pot.

  6. When beets soften, cool until they are manageable and grate on the largest vegetable grater. Add to soup and immediately follow with vinegar. Heat through, but do not boil! Add cream and salt, if needed.

  7. Let soup sit for at least 30 min, but better if it sits for about an hour.

  8. To serve, reheat potatoes if you'd like (I like mine hot), and place them on the side of a bowl creating a potato island 🙂 Fill bowl with hot soup. Enjoy!

Notes

* burn onion over open flame of your stove burner
** to cut on cooking time, instead of making your own chicken stock, use boxed. You will need 2 quarts / 2 liters. You may have to adjust level of salt.

If you’ve not had beet soup before, this one is a good one to start with. If you do, please let me know how you liked it.

Happy cooking and smacznego!

Anna

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