Friday, December 07, 2007

Tawny Borscht

Oh look at that hearty miscellaneous-vegetable soup. It is quite beige, the color of most vegetable soups - and yet - despite its tawny color - the soup above, is, in fact, borscht. How embarrassing. The only beets I could find the day I first planned to make borscht were "multi-colored," and it turned out that they were mostly golden beets, with a couple of pink ones in the mix, but nothing dark and garnet-red like a proper beet. Hence the totally nondescript soup that ought to be electric magenta.

The soup turned out well, though I want more beets next time...probably about twice as many or more than I used here. It's definitely several steps away from coming close to my favorite borscht, the vegetarian borscht at Veselka. If they offered it all the time, I probably wouldn't even try to make my own - theirs is so delicious! - but I get cravings for it sometimes when it's not on the menu. And I do like the always-vegetarian borscht at B&H Dairy, but they don't use lima beans like Veselka does. I'm hoping the additional beet flavor will overpower the vegetable stock, which is a little too prevalent here. All in all, it's nice, but not exactly right.

Here's the recipe I used (all approximations) - I recommend lots more beets than you see here.

Anna's Borscht
6 small beets, cut into matchsticks
1 small onion, diced finely
3/4 cup celery, in approx 1/2" dice
2 medium carrots, halved and in 1/2" slices
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, 1/2" dice
2 cloves garlic (I used Rocambole, which is quite mild)
6 cups vegetable stock
1 can lima beans or butter beans
2 tbsp. tomato paste
6 tbsp. fresh dill
4 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. butter or Earth Balance
salt to taste

Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring, until onion softens, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and stir until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Pour in vegetable stock, add beets, and stir; bring to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes, or until beets begin to soften. Add carrots, cover, and simmer 20 more minutes, until carrots begin to soften. Add potatoes and dill, and simmer until potatoes start to become tender, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste, lima beans, vinegar and salt (I used about 6 grinds of my sea salt grinder at this point), cover, and simmer at least 30 more minutes, until all vegetables reach desired tenderness; remove from heat. Taste for seasoning; add more salt, dill, or vinegar, as desired, let sit a few minutes, covered, and serve.

No comments: