Beet borscht

January 2, 2008

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Serves 4

8 medium beets, trimmed of all but 1-inch of stems and scrubbed well
2 teaspoons salt
4 dried porcini or morel mushrooms
1/2 cup hot water
8 cups strong beef stock
1 clove of garlic, mashed to a fine paste
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon bottled white horseradish
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dill

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Place the beets on a sheet of foil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Fold up the edges of the foil to enclose the beets completely. Set them on a baking sheet and roast for 1 hour or until the beets are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Set the beets aside until they are cool enough to handle.

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, soak the mushrooms in the hot water for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the soaking liquid. Discard the mushroom stems. Coarsely chop the caps. Set aside.

3. When the beets are cool, working over a plate, use your fingers to remove and discard the skins. On the coarse side of a box grater shred the beets over the plate; set aside.

4. In a soup pot, combine the beef stock, beets, mushrooms, mushroom soaking liquid, garlic, honey, vinegar, and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add pepper, to taste.

5. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with horseradish, feta, and dill. Jonathan Levitt