Shredded Beet and Cabbage Soup with Yogurt

This beet-red soup may resemble borscht at a glance, but its flavor is fresher and more delicate. Even so, it’s a supper for a chilly night, served perhaps with hot cornbread or rye toast. For the best results, use a rich homemade broth or choose the best available store-bought brand; the soup needs a strong foundation because it has so little meat. Use whole-milk yogurt for the topping so it doesn’t break when you stir it in.  From Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner by Janet Fletcher (Ten Speed Press).

  • 1 pound red beets (weight without greens, about 4 medium or 3 large)
  • 1/2 pound carrots
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 thick slices bacon, halved lengthwise, then diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 pound Savoy cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-1/2 quarts cups rich chicken, beef or vegetable broth
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup plain drained yogurt (see Note below) or Greek yogurt, at room temperature, whisked
  • Chopped fresh dill, for garnish

Preheat an oven to 375°F.  Remove the beet greens if attached, leaving 1 inch of stem to avoid cutting into the beets. Put the beets in a baking dish with 1/2 inch of water. Cover and bake until the beets are tender when pierced, 1 to 1-1/4 hours. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets and grate them on the coarse holes of a box grater.

If carrots are large, halve or quarter them lengthwise first, then slice crosswise 1/4-inch thick.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes to render some of the fat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft and beginning to color, about 10 minutes. Add the carrots, cabbage, beets, and bay leaf and stir to blend. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cover, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the carrots and cabbage are just tender, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf.

Divide the soup among warm bowls. Top each portion with 2 tablespoons of yogurt and a   generous pinch of dill. Serve immediately.

Serves 8

Note: To drain yogurt, line a sieve or colander with a triple thickness of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl to collect the whey. Gently pour the yogurt into the lined sieve or colander. Cover with a plate or cloth—you’re just protecting the yogurt, not pressing it—and refrigerate. Drain until it as thick as Greek yogurt, which usually takes about 1 hour.