sour cream or unflavored Greek style yogurt, optional
sliced hard cooked egg or potato, optional
Wash the beets well and cook them in boiling salted water until tender. Best way to check? Insert a paring knife all the way through the center of a beet and lift up. If the beet slips off the knife, it’s done. If it doesn’t move, let it cook longer.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove the skins. Coarsely chop the beets and set them aside. Reserve any cooking liquid and strain.
Heat the olive oil or butter in a soup pot or large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the ingredients have softened.
Add the chopped beets (plus any accumulated juices), salt and pepper and stir. Pour in the water.
Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.
Puree the soup with a hand blender or in a food processor or blender. Return the soup to the pan to heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed.
Serve garnished, if desired, with sour cream, yogurt, chopped green onions or dill, or cooked egg or potato.