In light of the Olympics in Sochi and for those who would like to try something with a local yet Russian and Eastern European flair, here is the recipe for Hotel Utah's borscht from former Deseret News food editor Valerie Phillips' cookbook, "Soup's On! 100 Savory Soups, Stews and Chilis Made Easy," published by Covenant Communications.
HOTEL UTAH BORSCHT
During my 10 years as the Deseret News food editor, the Hotel Utah’s borscht was one of the most requested recipes.
When it was built in downtown Salt Lake City in 1911, Hotel Utah was the premier hotel west of the Mississippi. Every U.S. president from William Howard Taft to Ronald Reagan has stayed there. The hotel was closed in 1987, and some floors were renovated into office space for its owner, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now known as the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, it still houses three restaurants, but none of them serves the borscht that was once so popular.
Obviously, tastes have changed. But during the building’s 100th anniversary gala, the soup was one of the historic “signature” dishes served. Chef Don Sanchez of Temple Square Hospitality shared the recipe with me, noting that he made some changes to legendary Chef Girard’s original version.
“We used chicken stock instead of the beef stock, and we pureed the beets instead of just using the juice from the cooking process. Instead of adding sour cream, we used it as part of the garnish because I didn’t like the color when we added the sour cream.”
For the sake of nostalgia, here’s the original recipe. But if you have no qualms about tampering with history, feel free to switch it up as Sanchez did.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Makes: 8 1-cup servings
4 cups beet juice (or 4 cups pureed cooked beets)
4 cups chicken or beef broth, divided
Juice of 1 lemon
Sugar to taste
Salt to taste
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup sour cream
1 or 2 egg yolks
Hard-cooked eggs, diced
Bring beet juice and 3 1/2 cups of broth to boil in a pot. Stir in lemon juice, sugar and salt. Combine remaining 1/2 cup broth and cornstarch until smooth. Stir into soup. Cook and stir until thickened.
Combine sour cream and egg yolks. Gradually stir 1 cup of hot beet juice mixture into egg mixture. Then, stirring constantly, slowly add warmed eggs back into hot liquid. Heat without boiling. Strain. Serve hot or cold.
Garnish with sour cream, parsley and eggs. Serve with lemon wedges.