Monday, March 2, 2009

Borscht: Dasvidanya, hunger.

Borscht has always fascinated me, and I've always wanted to eat it. Never have, mind you, but it seems like such a phenomenon. It's a soup that's eaten all across Eastern Europe, as well as Russia and the former Soviet states. The variations on making it are almost as numerous as the people who eat the stuff, and the only thing I've been able to nail down is that (1) it has beets in it, and (2) it probably has cabbage.

I found a wonderful posting on a message board I frequent for the stuff, and it finally got me off my tuchus so I could make my own. Good time to do that sort of thing with my vegetarian eats mode on. There are lots of recipes for borscht online with meat in them, but also just as many are vegetarian. In that way, it's sort of like chili I suppose.

Here's what I started with, all arranged in the new enameled dutch oven my mom gave me, yay!

This isn't everything, as I was kind of going on a rough idea and added stuff as the mood carried me. In the end, this is what I used:

  • Three quarts vegetable stock, or more if you need it
  • Two yellow onions, chopped
  • Two carrots, chopped
  • Three beets, peeled and chopped
  • Three Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • Head of cabbage, chopped
  • A big handful of parsley, chopped
  • Four cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
  • Dill (fresh if you've got it, I used dried) to taste
  • Three tablespoons olive oil
  • One tablespoon brown sugar
  • Two teaspoons salt
  • Lemon or Lime juice, or whatever acidic ingredient you prefer to taste (I use citric acid)
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • Dollop of sour cream (optional)
Heat the stock in your pot to a heavy simmer, and add your veggies. Beets go first, cook for about ten minutes or more, then add everything except the cabbage, cook for another 35 or so, stirring as you go. Add the cabbage & everything else sans pepper and sour cream, and cook for another 10-15. Basically you want to make sure the veggies have a little body to them, but aren't raw. Taste & adjust for seasoning, serve in a soup bowl, and if you like it, add a big spoonful of sour cream, and add pepper and dill to that.

This is a sweet & sour soup, and the cabbage, mushrooms, and garlic keep it just savory enough to keep your feet on the ground. Make sure your veggies aren't overdone and mushy. You want just a little resistance to the tooth. This makes a ridiculous amount of food by the way. Make sure you have a lot of people eating, or a big leftover capacity. It'll freeze well if you need to do that.

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