Hot Beet Soup with Pork Belly (Bietes Zupa)
Active: 1 hr. 30 min. • Total: 4 hr. 15 min.
The rich, beetinfused pork broth of this soup is briny, with tangy vegetables floating throughout. For the fullest flavor, marinate the beets in the vinaigrette well ahead of time.
1 lb. skinned pork belly 2 Tbsp. kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste 1 lb. meaty pork bones (such as neck or hock) 3 bay leaves 1½ lb. red beets (2 large) 1 tsp. sugar 6 Tbsp. white or cider vinegar, divided ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper 1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes (2 large) 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter 3 garlic cloves, minced 2 cups coarsely grated carrot (from about 4 large, peeled carrots) ½ cup sliced chives ¼ cup chopped fresh dill 4 peeled, chopped hardboiled eggs, for topping (optional)
1 Rub the pork belly with 1 tablespoon of salt and set aside for at least an hour or up to overnight.
2 Cut the salted pork into 1-inch lardons, each ½-inch thick.
3 In a large stockpot, combine the pork bones and 10 cups cold water; bring to a boil over high heat. Skim and discard any foam, then add the bay leaves and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Lower the heat to maintain a strong simmer, and cook for 1 hour. Add the lardons and cook until the belly pieces are tender, about 1 hour more.
4 Meanwhile, cook the beets: In a medium pot, add the beets and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then add 1 teaspoon salt and lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the beets are tender when poked with a knife, 60–70 minutes. Remove the beets, reserving the cooking liquid, and let cool slightly. Use a paring knife to peel and cut each into ¾-inch cubes.
5 Transfer the chopped beets to a medium bowl and add the sugar, 3 tablespoons vinegar, and 1 cup of the beet cooking liquid; season with salt and pepper and set aside to marinate.
6 Peel and dice the potatoes and add to the pork broth. Cook until just tender, about 20 minutes.
7 In a large skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter. When the foam subsides, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5–7 minutes.
8 Transfer the carrots along with the beets and their marinating liquid to the broth. Cook for 10 minutes to meld the flavors, then season to taste with salt, black pepper, and up to 3 tablespoons more vinegar; the soup should have a sweet-sour flavor.
9 Divide among 8–10 bowls, and top with the chives, dill, and chopped hardboiled egg, if using. Serve hot.