The 2014 Winter Olympics are upon us, and since they will be held in Soichi, Russia I thought it was time to pull out some Russian cuisine to get in the mood. Strawberries Romanoff might be delicious, but it is a little too cold in most of the country for that right now. Instead, I am starting with a nice hearty beefy sweet and sour vegetable soup – Borscht! Yes, the woman who professed to hate beets is posting a beet soup recipe. And it is delicious.
I remember having this as a child, but I couldn’t find a recipe. I seem to remember Ma’am made it more of a puree without the meat in it. I modified this recipe from The Yul Brynner Cookbook: Food Fit for the King and You. His cooks for over an hour and a half, which I thought a bit excessive so I just chopped my vegetables into about a 1/4″ dice and used canned broth (which I had made previously and canned) and leftover beef and ham to speed things up. If you want chunkier vegetables, cut yours chunkier and cook it longer.
This version does not have cabbage or potatoes as I have seen in some recipes. If you want to add them, go ahead. I might eat beets now, but I still don’t care for cooked cabbage. And my husband loathes the smell of it cooking. So, not going to happen in our house. Just add what you want and/or have in your kitchen. You could even use vegetable stock and omit the meat to make it vegetarian.
One tip Mr. Brynner gives is that this can be served cold. What? Cold Borscht in the summer time?! Russia has a summer? I have never thought of Borscht as anything but a piping hot soup used to combat all of those bitterly cold Russian nights. Hey, I grew up in the height of the Cold War. The USSR is cold and snowy 365 days a year and evil and blah blah blah! Maybe not. And, I was fascinated to learn that Soichi is actually better known as a balmy summer resort than a winter one so at first it seemed an odd choice for the Winter Games.
Back to the cold soup for warm nights, he recommends peeling, slicing and seeding a cucumber for a garnish on top of the soup with a sprinkle of dill. I may have to choose between this and our Andalusian Beet Gazpacho this summer. Maybe, I will plant another row of beets so I can have both.
But, I have to say, this Borscht was pretty awesome steaming hot straight out of the pot. And filling!
Until next time, stay warm (or cool if you are visiting us in the summer) and happy eating.