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Helen Fields | Wise EC

Brightly colored and full of flavor, this sophisticated soup will impress guests at your next cold-weather dinner party. Fields developed the recipe when she was a contestant in the World Food Championships, in which 10 finalists were charged with creating a dish that featured celery.


1/2 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces rib-eye steak, trimmed and cut into thin strips
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 large carrot, peeled and grated
5 ounces applewood smoked bacon
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 pound fresh, large red beets, peeled and shredded
5 cups thinly sliced celery
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
2 quarts water or more as needed
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Juice of 2 lemons
1 small black radish, peeled and shredded (or substitute another type of radish)
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill


1 loaf dark rye bread, uncut (preferably day-old)
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Borscht: Pour olive oil into a large stockpot, then add steak, onion and carrot, and cook 10 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.

2. Trim most of the fat from bacon and reserve for another use. Finely chop the lean bacon and add with potato to stockpot. Cook another 5–6 minutes, or until bacon begins to brown. Stir frequently and adjust heat if necessary to keep ingredients from sticking.

3. Add beets, celery, tomato, water, salt and pepper to stockpot. Cover and simmer soup 1–1 1/4 hours.

4. Add oregano, garlic, dill and lemon juice to stockpot. Cover and simmer an additional 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. Croutons: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice rye bread into ½-inch cubes and drizzle with olive oil. Season cubes with salt and pepper. Use your hands or a rubber spatula to toss cubes until evenly coated.

6. Spread cubes in a single layer over a large, rimmed baking sheet. Bake 10–20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until crisp and lightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside.

7. Top each serving with a portion of croutons, shredded radish, sour cream and chopped dill.

Serves 8–10.