On a chilly March weekend several years ago, my posse gathered at Haypress Campground for Lauren Fiel's birthday. Recent rains turned trails to rivers, and by the time we pitched camp we were ready for a nice hot communal meal. I brought a few jars of my Mom's (now famous) borscht, and with it gained a new crop of Russian soup evangelists.
Just as it takes five English letters to emulate two Russian ones, this borscht blog may seem bombastic. My advice for first-time borschters is to read it through, and taste as you go. Soup is not an exact science, but the techniques within give my Mom's version a depth of flavor that truly celebrates its humble ingredients. Ha здоровье!
1# beets (about 3 large, 4 medium)
3/4# carrots (3-4)
3/4# yukon gold potatoes, yellow, or white potatoes (3-4)
3/4# cabbage (1 tiny, or 1/2 regular)
1 large white or yellow onion
1 leek or shallot
2 cloves garlic
14 oz canned or jarred tomatoes, peeled & seeded (preferably unsalted), and pureed*
apple cider or red wine vinegar (about 1/4C)
salt & pepper
Roast the beets. This can be done a day ahead, or several hours ahead of making the soup. Cut the greens away from the beets, without cutting into the beets themselves. Don't cut the root end either. Leaving a 1/2" of the greens at the top will prevent beet juice from leaking out during roasting. A little will, so line a sheet pan with foil, scrub the beets well with a brush and cool water, and roast the beets whole for 30-60 minutes depending on their size. You want them yielding, but not mushy.
Peel the cooled beets and grate them in a food processor. Wearing latex gloves will keep the mess and stained hands at bay. Peel and grate the carrots.
Heat a very large stock pot and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. On low heat, cook the beets and carrots for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
|Grated carrots and roasted beets.|
After 20 minutes of sauteing the beets & carrots, remove them from the pot, and set them aside for later.
Add about 3T of olive oil to the pot, and saute the onion and leek or shallot until translucent. Stir in the garlic and saute for another minute or two.
Stir in the cabbage and cook it down for just about a minute, stirring as it wilts. Stir in the potatoes.
Sprinkle them with about 1T kosher salt. Stir in the pureed tomatoes, then add 3Qts of hot water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Refrigerate cooled soup in airtight containers for up to 1 week, or freeze in mason jars for up to 6 months.
Makes 1.1 cubic Sweeneys. (A lot.)