For years my mother tried to convert me to the joy of beetroot, one of her favourite vegetables, but achieved nothing more than an epic fail. (I think my junior school was trying to do the same with swede, so often did it appear on our plates at lunchtime. Another epic fail.)
When I went into healthy eating overdrive after the arrival and banishment of the Massive Inconvenience, I thought I might give it another go and tried juicing beetroot, mixing it with other more palatable items. This is doing me good, this is doing me good, this is doing me good, I uttered like a mantra, as I forced it down. The taste lingered for the rest of the day and I remained more unconverted than ever.
But yesterday, a small miracle occurred. We, as in the tenors of Exe Valley Voices, met for a rehearsal - we have three performances coming up - and lunch at the home of one of the tenors. I knew that she had prepared soup, so I took along some freshly baked soda bread - still warm from the Aga, mmm - which goes perfectly with hearty winter soups.
Our hostess had thoughtfully provided chicken soup for the carnivores and a vegetable soup, a beautiful soup, the colour of rubies. My heart sank, however, as I knew that there was only one soup that looks that special: borscht. Yes, beetroot soup, to which she had added apple . . . but, as I don't eat meat and because I had no wish to come across as a fussy eater, I said yes to the borscht. It was, I have to say, a complete revelation and tasted as good as it looked.
I'm going to ask her for the recipe but, meanwhile and for all you other beetroot loathers (and lovers), this version looks similar. If you prefer a vegan borscht, one commenter says that it is very good without the feta or sour cream and suggests that a touch of ginger might work too. I think I might give that a go.