BORSCHT – one of Russia’s better known dishes. Simple to prepare, inexpensive and highly nutritious. It is wonderful served hot in winter and equally as good in summer chilled.

Serves 4

50 g butter
500g beetroot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp sugar
1 ½ litres beef stock or vegetable if desired
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lemon or red wine vinegar
Soured cream to serve
A handful of chopped chives to garnish or dill

Melt the butter in large pan over a gentle heat and slowly sweat the beetroot onion, carrot and garlic, turning the vegetables (which will become a lurid pink) over the butter.
Add the sugar and stock to the pan, season with a few grinds of pepper bring the soup to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Using a blender or food processor (cover with a tea towel just encase it splutters out the top) whizz the soup until it is entirely smooth then add the lemon juice or vinegar and salt to taste.

Serve with a swirl of sour cream and a scattering of herbs.