Roasted red beet and carrot borscht

iStock/Donald Erickson

Carrots and other orange vegetables contain high levels of beta carotene, which our bodies convert into vitamin A. This vitamin helps keep the immune system strong, and the mucous members in the nose and throat healthy.

Makes 4 cups - 4 to 6 servings

To allow time for the flavors to blend, this brilliantly colored soup is best if made a day before serving. It's delicious warm, but I also like to serve it chilled.

6 medium red beets, divided
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups coarsely shredded white cabbage
1 cup coarsely shredded carrot
2 leeks (white parts only), halved lengthwise, rinsed, and cut into ¼-inch slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups vegetable stock (prepare using stock concentrate, cubes, or powder)
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
¾ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper, sour cream, and snipped fresh dill for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Wrap 3 of the beets tightly in separate squares of foil. Place them on a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven until tender when pierced with a knife tip, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, cut the remaining 3 beets into 1-inch pieces. (It's not necessary to peel them first).

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add the just-cut beets, cabbage, carrot, leeks, and garlic; cook until the vegetables are partially tender, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, peppercorns, cloves, and bay leaf. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

When the roasted beets are done, remove them from the oven and set aside. When cool, rub off the skins under cool running water. Cut the beets into ½-inch cubes.

Drain the beet liquid through a mesh strainer over a medium bowl; discard the solids. Whisk in the sour cream. Stir in the brown sugar, vinegar, and the diced roasted beets. Season to taste.

Refrigerate in a covered container until chilled, at least 4 hours, before serving.

Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of pepper and a swirl of sour cream topped with dill.

Advance preparation

Refrigerate this soup for up to 3 days in a covered container. Serve chilled or reheat, taking care not to let the mixture come to a boil (the sour cream may separate).

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