Bacon adds wonderful flavor to the soup, but it’s equally delicious without it; if you omit the bacon, sauté the vegetables in 2 tablespoons olive oil. If you don’t want to bother with dicing the beets, parsnips, and carrots, grating them by hand or in a food processor works just fine. Ketchup is an unusual addition, but it boosts the umami, thus enhancing the soup’s lusciousness. I prefer roasting beets to concentrate their flavor; however, the soup may also be made with boiled, steamed, or microwaved beets. If the beets are cooked ahead of time, Beet Soup makes a quick and tasty meal.
1 cup diced bacon, 1/4” dice (optional)
1 cup diced parsnips, 1/8” dice
1 cup diced carrots, 1/8” dice
1 1/2 cups diced celery, 1/4” dice
1 1/2 cups diced onions, 1/4” dice
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
6 cups vegetable or beef stock
1 14.5 ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup ketchup
4 medium-sized beets, roasted and cut in 1/4” dice
1 1/2 cups finely shredded cabbage
Sauté the bacon in a Dutch oven until the fat has rendered and the bacon begins to brown. Add the parsnips, carrots, celery, and onions, and sauté until the onion softens. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Stir in the stock, tomatoes, ketchup, beets, and cabbage. Bring to a boil, cover, turn down the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through and the broth is flavorful.
Serve the soup immediately, topped with a dollop of sour cream and minced fresh dill.
NOTE on Roasting Beets: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wash the beets, cut off the greens leaving an inch of stem (don’t cut into the beet itself), rub the beets with olive oil, and wrap tightly in a foil packet (or place in a tightly covered baking dish). Bake for 40 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the beets and how fresh they are. The beets are done when they’re tender if poked with a knife or skewer. Let the beets cool, and slip off their skins (I wear gloves when I do this to protect my hands from staining). (These can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for about a week.)