November 7, 2010

Beet-Tomato Soup, a Variation on Borscht

I love making big pots of soup during cold months, almost always having a bowl of soup for lunch. The beets in the cellar are a good base for soup, and there are many different beet soups; last January I posted a recipe for a winter borscht which I make vegetarian style, with cabbage, onions, carrots and tomatoes. This recipe, which comes to me from my friend, the artist Cathy Clair Cone, is simpler, with just beets and tomatoes as the main ingredients. The recipe I had jotted down several years ago after enjoying this soup was rather abbreviated and cryptic, so my version may be different from Cathy's, but it's still quite good. The flavor of beets and tomatoes is tangy, close to sharp but not quite, and the cumin enhances the brightness. Aside from having equal amounts of tomatoes and beets, the other ingredient amounts can be increased or decreased according to your taste.

Equal amounts by weight of tomatoes and beets. For this recipe I used 28 ounces of each.
6 cups water, or more if you like a thinner soup
2 teas cumin
2 Tbs garlic, chopped
lots of freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
some basil if available.

  1. Parboil the beets, for medium sized beets 1/2 hour. Peel and grate them; I use a food processor for this step.
  2. Chop the tomatoes. Place both vegetables in a pot with the water, bring to a boil and cook till vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add cumin, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes more.
  4. Serve hot with a spoonful of yogurt or sour cream. (I prefer yogurt)
You'll notice that I use a very large amount of garlic. It doesn't taste very strong when put raw into the soup. Also, I've been trying to cut down on my salt love, and garlic goes a long way to improving flavor without salt.


  1. The soup sounds and looks marvelous, but that pristine white napkins so near beets is making me nervous!

  2. Not to worry, Linda; that napkin is one of many that my mother gave me, parts of napkin/tablecloth sets. She never uses cloth napkins so I have piles of them.

  3. Back in the 70s someone said that cloth napkins were more environmentally friendly than paper, so I've been using cloth since then. I also have dozens, though very few white ones!

  4. forget the napkins....has anyone tried the recipe and how did it taste????