Real question–you know that thing where you cook something and immediately have to call (i.e. email) your mom and convince her to stop by to pick up the rest because it’s so completely and thoroughly great that it’ll remind her she’s glad she made you? Of course not… That’s obnoxious. Ahem.
I’m serious, though, when I say this soup is one of the best things to materialize around these parts lately.
See, I was just reflecting on how I told you guys Lithuanians don’t have a version of chicken soup, unlike pretty much any other culture on the face of the Earth. Well, this could be it for us. It’s chock-full of the sweet, earthy beets we love so much. Its savory, hearty but very wholesome–all brightened with some fresh dill. Borscht-meets-chicken-soup fusion!
You’ll need some golden beets. Unless you want to use pink ones, in which case, by all means! I actually forgot to stick my hand in here for scale (I promise I have normal-ish size hands), but these are gigantic, enormous superbeets. Seriously, grapefruit-sized. Thus, I only used a couple of them. Nature: supersizing since way before McD’s.
Also, sauerkraut. As it happens, every recipe for golden borscht that I’ve seen online calls for cabbage–however, in my family, borscht always meant sauerkraut in there. You could, of course, use shredded green cabbage instead, but I haven’t tried that and can’t guarantee the awesomeness of your results. I strongly suspect the pickled tang helps–but feel free to try cabbage. I’m sure it would still be delicious.
Borscht usually has potatoes, too, but I skipped them in favor of more beets. I think this was a good decision, but you’re certainly allowed to play with the proportions if you like. Nobody died and made me President of the Boar…scht. (See what I did there?)
This is a fairly quick soup. So quick, that you definitely have time to brown your chicken first. No endless simmering–just endless sweet, earthy beet flavor.
The dollop of sour cream/yogurt is necessary. Not necessary to make this soup delicious (it already is), but essential because why WOULDN’T you? “Essential” is a word whose meaning was made to be stretched, you guys.
See how the whole thing becomes delightfully creamy? Yeah. It’s all the luxury of cream-based soups, but it doesn’t feel heavy at all.
I think this needs to happen in your kitchen very soon. Put it in your winter chicken soup rotation! I also suspect that this would be great as a vegetarian meal also. Skip the chicken, maybe use veggie broth instead of water?
P.S. Also, quick note! I updated my “about me” page for the first time since, oh, I don’t even know. Sometimes I forget I even have one… Embarrassing.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, bone-in or boneless, skin removed, trimmed of any excess fat
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4-5 medium golden beets, peeled and shredded (about 2 1/2 pounds of beets, roughly 8 cups shredded)
- 4 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 cups drained sauerkraut
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus extra for serving
- 2 bay leaves
- Pinch of turmeric (completely optional, for color only)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt, for serving
- Heat up the olive oil in a big pot over medium-high heat until shimmering, then add chicken and cook for a couple minutes on each side, until golden brown.
- Add the onion, followed by the garlic, and cook a couple minutes more, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and soft.
- Add the beets, carrots, sauerkraut, dill, bay leaves and turmeric, if using, and 2 quarts of water.
- Bring back to boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Remove the chicken from the pot and, when cool enough to handle, chop it up and return to the pot.
- Season soup with salt and pepper and serve topped with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and fresh chopped dill.
- Note about the golden beets: they'll start to oxidize and turn dark if shredded too far ahead. Either shred 'em pretty quickly, or toss with some lemon juice and/or cover them tightly with plastic wrap to keep them bright and yellow while you cook/prep everything else.