red beet soup

Botwinka – Polish Spring Beetroot Soup

“Spring” – painting by Tamara de Lempicka

 

Tamara de Lempicka

Tamara de Lempicka was a Polish Art Deco painter. She was born in Warsaw in 1898 into a wealthy family as Maria Górska. In 1916 she married Tadeusz Łempicki, a well-known lawyer, charmer and pleasure seeker with whom she lived in St. Petersburg. During the Russian Revolution the family fled to Paris.
In Paris of Roaring Twenties self-determined Lempicka established herself in a bohemian lifestyle of Parisian avant-garde. Acquainted with the rich and the famous, she became the first female artist to be a glamour star due to her extravagant lifestyle. She was bisexual with hedonistic attitude and famed for her many passionate affairs with men and women, shrouded in scandal. Her husband had finally enough of it and they divorced in 1931. A couple of years later she married an Austro-Hungarian Baron, Raoul Kuffner ,which cemented her position in high society.

The distinctive style of her elegant and sensual portraiture made her the favourite artist of Hollywood stars of that time. Influenced by Cubism she painted stylish portraits of the members of haute bourgeoisie and aristocracy. Her lavish Art Deco style paintings have decorative qualities and were very trendy at the time. She was called ”the baroness with a brush”.

Through her successful career and decadent living she redefined what it meant to be a woman and an artist. She painted modern, confident women proud of their sexuality and free to live their life the way they desire. Her iconic “Self-portrait in a Green Bugatti” is a bold self-expression of her larger-than-life character, a free woman in the golden age of the post-war period.

Tamara de Lempicka
Tamara de Lempicka

“My goal is never to copy. Create a new style, clear luminous colors and feel the elegance of the models.”
– Tamara de Lempicka

Botwinka

botwinka

“Spring” by Lempicka could be a picture from a fashion shoot. We see two young gorgeous women with their tanned skin and perfect locks striking a pose. Their lips are plump and painted with juicy colour, their faces and bodies perfectly chiseled. The woman on the foreground is holding white lilacs, indicating spring, tight to her bosom. The whole scene is elegant, intimate, sensual and tender. The season of rebirth and new opportunities is here.

Botwinka is the true queen of Polish spring soups. This soup is definitely my favourite. Botwinka’s gorgeous pink colour and delicate sour-sweet flavour makes it quite an elegant soup. I’m sure fashionable ladies would love it.

beetroot

The name Botwinka is derived from botwina – young leaves and roots of beetroot. Less known in the west, botwina is very popular in the eastern-european countries. I’m always looking forward to spring just to be able to eat the young beetroot.

beetroot

When making the soup try to use the best quality ingredients, as fresh and young vegetables as possible. The best beetroot for this soup is small roots with soft skin and crispy stalks and leaves.
Adding a bit of sugar and vinegar to the soup preserves the deep red colour of the beets while adding sour cream makes the soup pink.

My recipe for Botwinka is not a traditional one, considering the method and extra ingredients. I make it the way I like it best and I believe this recipe is an improvement.
Cook the soup just long enough to keep the crunchy bite of young vegetables and to avoid the soup turning brown.

soup prep

Ingredients:

  • bunch of young beetroot
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 young leek (white part only)
  • 2 sticks young celery
  • 3 young carrots
  • 4 young potatoes
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 l water
  • 1 cube vegetable stock
  • bouquet garni
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 25 g butter
  • 1,5 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • small bunch of dill, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper

Preparation:

Wash beetroot thoroughly. Cut off the stems and leaves. Trim the beetroot on both ends to get rid of the parts with soil in the groves. Peel the beetroot (if the beetroot is very young this is unnecessary) and dice into 1cm cubes. Use plastic gloves to protect your hands from staining.

Cut leek, celery and carrots into small pieces. Chop the stems and leaves of beetroot and set aside. Peel or scrape the young potatoes and cut into 1 cm cubes.

Heat oil in a large pot. Sauté onion, garlic, leek and celery until tender, stirring occasionally . Pour 2 litres of water into the soup pot, add the carrots, potatoes and beetroot except the stems and leaves of beetroot. Add stock cube, bouquet garni and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. When vegetables are tender add chopped stems and red wine vinegar. After a couple of minutes add the chopped leaves. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the white roux. Melt the butter on low heat in a small sauce pan. Add flour and whisk until a thick paste forms. Whisk constantly and cook for a minute. Let it cool down a bit then add a ladle of soup and blend with a spoon. Pour the mixture into the soup pot and stir. Let cook for a minute.

Temper the sour cream by mixing a couple of spoons of hot soup with sour cream until smooth. Pour the sour cream into the soup and stir. Turn the heat off. Season the soup with salt and pepper.

Serve the soup hot or at room temperature with chopped dill.

red beet soup

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