{ Fabulous Fermentation Week } Golden Beet Soup with Sauerkraut + Ginger Cream

Growing up in a mostly-Italian family with a kick-ass cook for a mama, many delicious dishes graced our table over the years, and yet (perhaps not surprisingly) despite our unanimous fondness for beets, borscht was never one of them. My first encounter with this dark and delicious concoction was only a few short years ago during culinary school, when I was assigned the job of borscht-maker during one of our soup and stew classes. An hour (and a hot-pink-splotched-and-stained recipe) later, I had fallen in love with this earthy, sweet, pleasantly tangy and comforting dish. Perhaps I was Eastern European in a past life? Anything is possible. But I do know this: beet borscht is one of the most under-appreciated dishes of all time.

When brainstorming recipes to share for Fabulous Fermentation Week, created by two of my favorite healthy bloggers, the lovely Elenore of Earthsprout and Sarah of My New Roots, I landed on the idea of a lighter and brighter take on the classic borscht: a golden beet soup with sauerkraut. And, lucky me, I happened to have a batch of homemade kraut in the fridge, just waiting for such an occasion…

A mason jar of tangy, fermented goodness is always a good thing to have around: this one is chock full of green cabbage, carrot, and ginger.

This soup is definitely of the let-the-sunshine-in variety. Perfect for these cold, dark January days; its yellow and orange hues make me feel like I am being filled with the gorgeous glow of late afternoon. Root vegetables, warming and grounding for this time of year, plus the potent medicinal triad of onions, garlic, and ginger, make this a pot of ultra-winter-appropriate goodness to nourish the body and spirit. Caraway seeds and dried dill are must-haves in my book – classic borscht seasonings that pair so beautifully with beets – and a pinch of turmeric enhances the broth’s golden color to an even richer hue. 

Sauerkraut, stirred into the pot after the soup has cooled for a few minutes to preserve its wealth of beneficial bacteria, provides gentle notes of sourness and salinity to the sweet and earthy roots, along with a dose of homegrown probiotics. And last but not least, a dollop of ginger-spiked Greek yogurt, ready to be swished and swiped with each spoonful, makes for a bright and tangy finishing touch.
golden beet soup with sauerkraut + ginger cream

serves 6

for soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
pinch of ground turmeric (about 1/8 teaspoon)
3 medium-sized golden beets, peeled and cut into matchsticks or shredded in a food processor (about 4 cups)
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks or shredded (about 2 cups)
1 small fennel bulb, finely diced (about 1-1/2 cups) (reserve green fronds for garnish)
6 cups vegetable stock or water
1 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon dried dillweed
1/2 cup to 1 cup raw sauerkraut (depending on sourness of the kraut and your personal taste), drained, liquid reserved*
1 tablespoon sauerkraut liquid (or to taste)
sea salt

for ginger cream:
1/2 cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt, and cook until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, caraway seeds, and turmeric, and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in beets, carrot, and diced fennel.

Add water, bay leaf, dill, and a generous pinch of salt. Bring soup to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover. Cook until vegetables are tender and broth is flavorful, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

To make the ginger cream, whisk together yogurt and ginger in a small bowl. Reserve until ready to serve (can be made up to 24 hours in advance and kept chilled).

Remove soup pot from heat, allow to cool for a few minutes, and stir in sauerkraut. Season to taste with sauerkraut juice and additional sea salt, if needed. Serve in warmed bowls, garnishing with a dollop of ginger cream and a few torn fennel fronds.
*sauerkraut with carrot + ginger
makes about 1 quart
1 small head green cabbage (approx. 1 lb), shredded (about 6 cups)
1 carrot, peeled and grated (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sea salt
Combine cabbage, carrot, and ginger in a large bowl. Sprinkle sea salt over vegetables. With clean hands, massage the vegetables until they soften and release their liquid, 5 to 10 minutes.
Pack the cabbage mixture into a sterilized quart jar, pressing with a pestle to tighly pack down. Pour remaining liquid (brine) into jar to cover vegetables by at least 1 inch. Weight the top of the cabbage mixture to help the vegetables stay submerged (I use a sterilized spice jar, filled with water and covered with a tight-fitting cap). Cover jar with lid or a clean cloth and twine.
Leave jar at room temperature to ferment, using the weight to press down the vegetables if they begin to rise above the level of the brine. Ferment for anywhere from several days to several weeks, depending on temperature and how sour you like the kraut. Taste along the way, and transfer to the refrigerator when it tastes right to you (the kraut will continue to ferment when chilled, but at a slower rate).
** Fermentation Friends **

3 thoughts on “{ Fabulous Fermentation Week } Golden Beet Soup with Sauerkraut + Ginger Cream

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