An intensely colored borscht-like soup that can be eaten hot or cold. This recipe calls for red peppers and red beets; yellow peppers and golden beets are an analogous variation, equally delicious and colorful. Though we do grow golden beets, alas we do not grow yellow peppers (yet).

1 T vegetable oil
1/2 c chopped onion
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 lbs sweet red peppers, stemmed, ribbed, seeded, chopped
1 lb red beets, trimmed, (peeled), chopped
4 1/2 c broth or stock (can use water for some of the amount)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 T lemon juice
fresh chopped herb, for garnish
goat cheese, feta cheese, sour cream, yogurt, for serving

1. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add peppers and beets, stirring to combine with the onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, then add broth or stock along with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until beets are tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.

2. Remove soup pot from heat and let cool some. Purée soup, in batches, in a blender or food processor. (A blender will give you a smoother purée.) If planning to serve this cold, transfer puréed soup to a large bowl, otherwise, transfer to another pot.

3. For a cold soup, refrigerate until chilled. Remove from fridge and stir in lemon juice. Serve soup in vessels of your choice, garnished with fresh chopped herb and a sprinkling of cheese or a dollop of sour cream or yogurt. For a hot soup, reheat the soup. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, then proceed as for chilled soup.