I ring my mother. She is 92.
“Do you use beef stock to make beetroot soup?” I ask.
“No,” Fay says, “we never used beef stock. This is how we did it,” said my mother. “This is my mother’s recipe.”
Sarah’s beetroot soup
Slice the beetroots.
Cover with water. Simmer for about half an hour until tender.
Drain the sliced beetroot and keep the beetroot stock.
(You don’t use the sliced beetroot for the soup. My mum says: use them in a salad with sour cream with sliced onions).
Beat 2 eggs with the juice of one lemon.
Add carefully- or eggs will curdle – to some of the warmed beetroot stock.
Once the beaten eggs are incorporated into this small amount, tip it into the main soup.
Reheat carefully – very carefully – so the eggs don’t curdle.
Add sour cream if desired.
This purple-looking healing soup, which I make with organic ingredients for extra quality, health and taste, enables nourishment to slip-in unsuspected via its beetroot-sweet, lemony lightness.
My grandmother Sarah died when I was 16. She was warm, earthy and wise, with fierce opinions I did not always agree with. Born in 1899 in London, her parents were migrants from anti-semitic Tsarist Belarus and Lithuania. I think of her so much in my heart.
My mother says the older she gets, the more she thinks of her grandmother, Jesse, (Sarah’s mother). Jesse died when my mother was ten years old. My mother says: “I talk to her every day. I call to her by her Yiddish name, Yeshki. She used to read the Yiddish translation of Shakespeare’s plays.” (I only learned that bit yesterday when reading out this blog to my mum).
My mother repeats stories endlessly so we remember them. My mother’s recollection of her grandmother are imprinted on my DNA since childhood so I have absorbed Jess’s “live each day as if it were your last” philosophy.
My mum again: “Jesse used to say: ‘I am not frightened of death,’ and pointing over to the window, she would say: ‘It’s as if I’m passing to the other side of that net curtain.'”
So, eat beet soup, and enjoy this precious life!