This is the latest (1:28 p.m.) I've ever posted a blog. The moral of the story? Don't eat Ina Garten's summer borscht when you are working at your computer. Or do eat it when working at your computer but don't spill it all over (and into) the keyboard.
Seriously, "summer borscht" sounds freaking daunting, but it's very straightforward and doesn't take much cooking ability (just a little boiling, chopping and mixing). Actually, it's pretty much foolproof, but—and this, I believe, holds true for all cooking—quality ingredients will make this cold soup superlative.
I used beets, scallions and dill from my garden and Japanese cucumbers from Nevia No, one of my favorite farmers. Also, skip the chicken stock and replace it with two cups of the beet cooking liquid (for a total of 3.5 cups of beet cooking liquid). I didn't have champagne vinegar so I used apple cider vinegar instead. I used unrefined sea salt instead of Kosher salt. The yogurt, sour cream and sugar I used were organic, as was the lemon I squeezed for the lemon juice.
Beware, this makes a lot of borscht, so halving the recipe may not be a bad idea. However, it stays a while in the refrigerator; my computer and I are still enjoying it a week after I made it.
Any questions, let me know.
5 medium fresh beets (about 2 pounds without tops)
2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
16 ounces sour cream, plus extra for serving
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons Champagne vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups medium-diced English cucumber, seeds removed
1/2 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus extra for serving
Place the beets in a large pot of boiling salted water and cook uncovered until the beets are tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the beets to a bowl with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine sieve and also set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of the beet cooking liquid, the chicken stock, sour cream, yogurt, sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt, and the pepper. Peel the cooled beets with a small paring knife or rub the skins off with your hands. Cut the beets in small to medium dice. Add the beets, cucumber, scallions, and dill to the soup. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. Season, to taste, and serve cold with a dollop of sour cream and an extra sprig of fresh dill.