Sunday, October 30, 2011

Oh borscht!

I have to say, I'm not a big soup fan. I enjoy making them, but when it comes to eating them, I'm not often in the mood for soup. My mom loves it... she could probably eat nothing but soup every day and be happy. The one exception is when the colder months come, I find myself more willing to curl up with a bowl of soup and be satisfied.

Tonight I was trying to decide what to do with the remainder of a bag of beets that were languishing in the pantry. (Why can't you just buy one or two beets? Why must you always buy a whole bag!? I think it's a conspiracy...) Then it hit me... one of my 'wish list' dishes was borscht... I had never made the stuff, and from a quick rummage through the fridge, I had everything on hand I needed to make it, albeit a simplified version. So I took a cue from Sophie Dahl's recipe for Borscht and got cracking. (by the way, if you'd like a more authentic, and far more labor intensive version, try the Girl's Guide to Guns and Butter recipe for Classic Russian Borscht)

The beets went into a pot of boiling water until they were tender (how do you know when that is? Simply stick in the point of a knife and if it goes in without resistance, they're ready) then allowed to cool before peeling. You can peel them before, but it's actually easier (and less messy) to boil them whole then peel after. Unless you're going for that whole 'mass murderer' look in the kitchen, then by all means ;) If you want to get fancy you can roast the beets in the oven instead, as this will enhance their sweetness, but if time is an issue, boiling will be quicker. Meanwhile I heated some chicken stock and cooked up a few green onions so they'd be ready when the beets were done.

Once everything was ready, it all went back in the pot for a bit, then I ran the immersion blender through it until it was smooth. (Tip: if doing it this way, cut the beets into smaller pieces. You can get away with bigger chunks if you'll be using a blender or food processor) A few glugs of vodka and taste for seasoning and you're almost done. If you're in a hurry, you can add sour cream and serve at this point (it can be served warm or cold). However if you have time, don't add the sour cream out and let the soup sit in the fridge overnight. This will allow the flavors to blend better and you can adjust the seasonings/lemon juice/etc the next day. I was in no hurry so let mine camp out overnight, then added a little more lemon juice for brightness, took the immersion blender for one more whirl to ensure it was as smooth as possible, and that was it. A bit of sour cream to garnish, a bit of fresh garlic bread on the side... seriously tasty stuff. I think this one will be made again (and again) this coming winter!!!

1 comment:

  1. Whole Foods sells both bunch beets (with greens) and single, greenless, usually much larger beets.

    I prefer to get the smaller ones, though. Besides buying two vegetables in one (the roots and the greens, which are essentially 'chard'), the greens are accurate indicators of how fresh the roots are.

    Another beet tip: when boiling, trim only about 1 cm above where the greens meet the root and DON'T trim the 'tails'. Trim more thoroughly only after cooking: this slows the loss of the flavor into the water as they are cooking.