“Borscht was traditionally a fermented soup,” says Cortney Burns, who adapted the classic beet base to one featuring a combination of fresh and fermented carrots and beets instead. “The warming spices, fresh ginger, and alliums bring out the natural sweet flavor of the carrots,” she says. Burns tops her soup with anything from salt-brined caraway to shredded or wilted vegetables, pickled ginger, dill, or yogurt, but play around with combinations you like. For a red version, use purple or red carrots and red beets. For a yellow version, use yellow carrots and golden beets. Pass the finished soup through a fine-mesh sieve for a completely silky texture.
What You Will Need
- 2 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1 tsp. caraway seeds
- 1 tsp. coriander seeds
- 1⁄4 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter
- 1⁄2 extra-virgin olive oil
- 7 medium carrots (1 lb.) fermented 2 weeks in the Base Brine (pg. 26), coarsely chopped
- 4 medium fresh carrots (10 oz.), peeled and coarsely chopped, plus a few pieces julienned for garnish (optional)
- 7 medium shallots (8 oz.), peeled and thinly sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 large beet (6 oz.), peeled and coarsely chopped, plus cooked beet greens for garnish (optional)
- 1 small fennel bulb (6 oz.), fronds removed, bulb coarsely chopped
- 1 4-inch piece (1½ oz.) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1⁄4 cup 2 oz.) fresh turmeric root, peeled and finely chopped, or 1 Tbsp. turmeric powder
- 1⁄4 cup (½ oz.) dried apples, diced
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 8 cups chicken stock, or substitute vegetable stock
- 1⁄2 cup apple juice
- 2 tsp. honey
- Kosher salt
- Yogurt, for topping (optional)
- Dill, for garnish (optional)
In a small dry skillet over medium-high heat, add the fennel seeds, caraway, coriander, and cumin seeds; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant but not colored, 1–2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, let cool completely, then grind to a fine powder.
In a medium pot over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil and warm gently until combined and just beginning to sizzle, 3–4 minutes. Stir in the powdered spice mixture, the fermented and fresh carrots, the shallots, garlic, beet, fennel, ginger, turmeric, dried apples, and lemon zest. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent and other vegetables are slightly softened, 12–15 minutes. Add the stock, apple juice, and honey and simmer until the vegetables are completely tender, 25–30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, 10–15 minutes.
Working in batches of a few cups at a time, transfer the mixture to a blender and purée until very smooth. Taste the soup and season with salt as needed. Serve, garnishing each bowl with a dollop of yogurt, julienned raw carrots, wilted beet greens, and dill as desired. Soup keeps refrigerated up to 5 days.