Monday, October 26, 2009

Russian Borscht (Beet Soup)

I felt I had to do a bit of research before I tackled this next blog. Then, I almost gave up when I found out how many different kinds of Borscht there actually are. There's Russian Borshch, Ukranian Borshch, Jewish Borscht, Polisch Barszcz, Romanian Bors, Lithuanian Barsciai, Estonian Bors, Czechoslovakian Borsc, Chinese Borshch, Mennonite Borscht, Belarusian Borscht, Armenian Borscht, American Borscht, hot Borscht, cold Borscht, Borscht with beef, Borscht without beef, Borscht with Kvas, Borscht with chicken... phew! How do you know which one is authentic? So, I decided that I'd combine what knowledge I had accrued and make up my own recipe. I started with a basic Russian version, which traditionally has no meat, and decided to add a bit of a French twist to it by incorporating a mirepoix into the base of the soup. This was truly an adventure. Enjoy!
The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is the more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious. -Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume


4 Red Potatoes, chopped
4 Beets (3 Red, 1 Yellow), chopped
1 Qt. Water
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 C. Onion, diced
2 C. Celery, diced
2 C. Carrot, diced
3/4 C. Tomato Paste
1 Small Head Cabbage, shredded
2 C. Roma Tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp. Cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. Brown sugar
Sour Cream
Dill Weed
Salt & Pepper

After chopping the potatoes and beets, boil them in the quart of water for 45-60 minutes, until they are tender. You can then move on to prep your other ingredients. Go ahead and dice your onion, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and shred your cabbage. Be sure to keep them all separate because you will be adding them at different times.

Once the vegetables have all been cut and the beets are halfway cooked, you can start your soup. (You can follow these steps by looking at the photos from Left to Right, Top to Bottom).

1. Sweat the onions in butter and a touch of salt until they are translucent.
2. Add the celery.
3. Add the carrot.
4. Mix and cook until the celery and carrot are tender.
5. Add tomato paste and caramelize until everything is well blended and the paste starts to stick to the bottom of the pot.
6. Deglaze with half of the beet water and stir until the bottom of the pot is clean. Cook about 10 more minutes.
7. Add the cabbage.
8. Add the tomatoes.
9. Add the cider vinegar and brown sugar. Cook for 3 minutes.
10. Add the beets, potatoes, and the rest of the beet water.
11. Stir and cook until beets and potatoes are fully cooked and tender.
12. Change consistency to your liking. I used an immersion blender to coarsely puree the soup. Some people like it chunky so this part is completely up to you. Be sure to adjust your seasonings at this point.

Plate your soup and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and sprigs of fresh dill weed.


Anonymous said...

Stedman, I want to give this one a shot...but i'm confused about how to mix it up...can you use a handmixer while in the pot to mix up the veggies and make it less chunky or how would you go about that?

Edible Menu said...


To incorporate the ingredients of the soup during cooking, I just used a wooden spoon but to puree the soup, I used what's called an "immersion blender" (or stick mixer). I stuck the immersion blender right down into the stockpot during the final step of cooking (step 12).
The other alternative is to puree the soup, in small batches, in a food processor or blender. I think the immersion blender works much easier, though it is often more time consuming.

Jimbonk said...

I liked it. I think you should do it again sometime.