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Here's a perfect excuse to use fresh beetroot in season and when the weather is starting to turn all the more cooler at nights. Beetroot soup (Borscht,borsch, borshch, borsht, or bortsch) has been adopted by many european countries where it's unique earthy flavour and vivid colour is savoured.
Firstly you need to make a stock
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and, when really hot, brown the pieces of pork and onion, keeping the heat high so they caramalise turning brownish to just black at the edges. This gives the stock a good strong flavour.
When you're happy with the colour (after about 6 minutes), add 2 pints (1.2 litres) water, the bay leaf, carrots and parsley stalks, followed by a good seasoning of salt and freshly milled pepper.
As soon as it begins to simmer, turn the heat down and let it simmer very gently without a lid for 40 minutes.
Strain it through a sieve into a bowl, throw out the stock ingredients and rinse the saucepan to use again.
While the stock is simmering you can prepare the beetroot.
Place beetroot in a saucepan, adding enough boiling water to just cover it, then add a pinch of salt.
Put on a lid and simmer gently for 40 minutes or until tender when pierced with a skewer.
After that, drain off the water, then cover the beetroot with cold water to cool it down. As soon as it's cool enough to handle, take off the skin.
Reserve one whole beetroot (about 110 g) for the garnish and cut the rest into cubes.
Transfer it to the saucepan in which you made the stock, add the stock, bring to simmering point, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Using a draining spoon, transfer the beetroot to a food processor, and while it's running, add the flour and butter paste and the soup stock, followed by 75 ml of soured cream.
When it's all blended pour it back into the saucepan, add the lemon juice, taste to check the seasoning and re-heat very gently, without letting it come to the boil.
Grate the reserved beetroot on the fine side of the grater. Then serve the soup in warmed soup bowls, swirl in the remaining soured cream and scatter the grated beetroot on top as a garnish.
To avoid hands the same colour as the soup it may be wise to use disposable gloves while handling the beetroot. It's also advisable that you use a stockpot or saucepan large enough to hold aproximately 3.5 litres.
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