Cold Beet Borscht à la “Molly Goldberg”

This recipe is from The Molly Goldberg Jewish Cookbook, published in 1955. It is perfect to illustrate Ben Katchor’s love of all aspects of Jewish culture, including the performing arts, as”Molly Goldberg” was the stage name of actress Gerturde Berg. According to the Kitchen Arts & Letters blog, Berg

 wrote, produced, and starred in a wildly popular radio (1929-1946) and television (1949-1956) household comedy series, among the most successful in broadcast history. Centered on the Goldberg family and their neighbors, Jewish Americans with one foot in the old world and the other very much in the new, the program charmed audiences with its evocations of the Melting Pot in mid-course. Not surprisingly, a significant portion of each show took place in the kitchen or at the dining table, where the plots developed in conjunction with a comforting array of sturdy foods from the traditional repertoire.

“Molly’s” recipe is a classic:

• 2 tablespoons sugar

• 1/3 + c lemon juice

• 8 beets; washed, peeled and quartered

• 1 c sour cream or strained Greek yogurt

• 2 1/2 qt water

• 1 tb salt

• 1 onion; chopped fine

• optional: 2 eggs

Add to cold borscht

• 1 spoonful of sour cream or strained Greek yogurt

• optional: Add one warm peeled boiled potato to cold borscht.

• Polish option: Add some chopped cucumber and 1/2 boiled egg

  1. Combine the beets, onion, water, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 1 hour. Add the lemon juice and sugar and cook for 30 minutes. Correct seasoning; the soup may require a little more sugar or lemon juice, depending upon the sweetness of the beets.
  2. If you choose to add eggs: Beat the eggs in a bowl. Gradually add 3 cups of the soup, beating constantly to prevent curdling. Return this mixture to the balance of the soup, beating steadily.
  3. Remove all of the beets from the soup. Coarsely grate the the beets and return them to the soup.
  4. Chill the soup, and serve very cold with a spoonful of sour cream in each plate.