This classic Polish soup has a distinctive taste and a gorgeous ruby red colour. Filled with fresh veg and spices, this dish is easy to make and takes less than an hour.
Place all the vegetables in a large saucepan. Add the stock, vinegar and sugar.
Tie the mushrooms, if using, allspice berries and bay leaves together in a piece of muslin to make a ‘bag’. Add this to the pan.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the oregano and simmer for 15 minutes more.
Fish out the bag, squeezing it well, then discard, along with the oregano sprigs. Season the soup to taste with salt, pepper and a little more vinegar and/or sugar, if desired. It should have sweet and sharp notes.
This beetroot soup may be served in two ways: traditionally, the vegetables are strained out and the bright pink broth accompanies mushroom and cabbage pierogies (dumplings), especially at Christmas time. Though it is less conventional, the soup can also be blended after cooking and served with sour cream. Non-vegetarians could add crispy bacon pieces before eating.
Freezing and defrosting guidelines
Make the soup, then leave to cool at room temperature. Freeze (without garnishes or toppings) in a rigid container, leaving a bit of space for expansion, for up to 1-3 months. Reheat either from frozen or defrost in the fridge overnight. Once piping hot, add toppings or garnishes and serve.
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** Whole Allspice berries are available in limited stores.