Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Q: What the heck is borscht anyway?
A: Borscht is a delightful dish in which several unloved vegetables get together and create a wonderful thing.
Q: What are these unloved vegetables of which you speak?
A: Beets and cabbage most notably, though there are others.
Q: Ew. Don't those grow from, like, the ground. Why the heck should I eat it?
A: It tastes very good--much better than you would ever expect. It is good for you. It contains seasonal vegetables. It is cheap. It is red and red is my favorite color. Also the last 4 letters sound distinctly Russian and, thus, slightly vulgar. Perhaps you will enjoy saying them slowly in front of your mother. Oh--and you add a dollop of sour cream and some dill which makes this kick butt.
Q: Hmmm. This is a great word to say. And the sour cream sounds promising, but are you sure it tastes good because it looks kind of different. I have not recently seen borscht among the Campbell's soup lineup and therefore have trouble trusting your sketchy "red" recommendations even if you have instructed me to add a full-fat dairy product to the top of it.
A: It contains tomato paste so I'm sure Campbell's would approve (note: that's a lie; Campbell's would not approve).
Q: Is this soup only good if you drink vodka.
A: This soup is delicious even if you are a crazy Mormon housewife.
adapted from Apron Strings
makes 8 servings
prep time: 10-20 minutes, give or take depending on your chopping and multi-tasking skills--You can chop some things as others cook, which lessens the overall time.
Cook time: 1-2 hours
onion: .15, celery: .10, carrot: .10, pepper: .60, cabbage: .50, beets: .50, tomato paste: .50, broth (I made mine from Better than Bouillon): .30, apple: .50, potato: .10, lemon: .30, other stuff: .25
Note: I know there are a lot of ingredients in this. If you are like me, you are bound to forget one (or several) when you go to the store. The good news is that this is pretty forgiving as far as leaving things out that you don't have (just don't forget the beets, okay; it kind of needs those). I've made it as is, but the last time I made it I didn't have celery or a pepper or much more than an apple core (curse myself for eating the last apple right before making this). It was still delicious.
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, shredded or chopped small
1 pepper, diced (I prefer red)
2-3 C cabbage, chopped (this is half a small cabbage)
2 medium beets, shredded or chopped small
5 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz tomato paste (I think that's the size of a can)
8 C vegetable or chicken broth
1 apple, diced
1 potato, diced (I used red and recommend a waxy variety)
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
pepper to taste
juice of a lemon (fresh is best, but 2-3 Tbsp of non-fresh will do)
sour cream, for garnish
dill, for garnish
Heat oil in a large pot (I used a Dutch oven). Saute onion, celery, carrot, and green pepper for about 5 minutes. Add cabbage and beets and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Add tomato past and garlic, stir. Then add broth, apple, potato, and bay leaf. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
Then add the smoked paprika (yes, smoked is better than normal, but use what you've got, though really buy some smoked--it's incredible), lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Cover again and cook over low heat for another 30-90 minutes (yes, that is a wide range--this will be done with tender veggies after 30 more minutes, but it will taste better if you give it a little longer).
Top with sour cream. I mean, really, don't skip this--you can I guess, but it is just not as good. The sour cream mixed in makes it just fabulous. And then add dill. Also fabulous. If your lemon has another squeeze in it, give the soup that too. And eat.