Monday, April 11, 2011

Cooking Classes 2: Borscht

A Ukrainian soup. Beet soup. I had never really tried it until today. Since it holds a prominent place in Ukranian culinary history I figured of all the things I could choose to learn, this would be the most important. If you think about it, it really was a wise decision to learn how to make such a healthy, delicious, and useful sort of soup. It's a meal in itself. Not a soup for a starter. A hearty repast! Do you see the enormous pot I made it all in? I was a bit worried that we had made too much since I wasn't sure if my family would help me out in eating it. Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 small beets, julienned

  • 2 carrots, julienned

  • 1 large onion, julienned

  • 6 medium potatoes, chunks

  • a quarter head of green cabbage, shredded thinly

  • a handful of parsley, chopped

  • tomato paste, 1/8 to 1/4 cup

  • meat (whatever you have) I used a 1/4 lb. of australian beef cubes that were sitting in my fridge

  • 1 small pepper chopped

  • 5 bay leaves

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sunflower oil (she used my canola oil because that's all I had)

  • 1/2 cup of already cooked white beans or some sort of brown bean (she brought over a small can of baked beans)

  • salt

*important note: Borscht developed in the Ukraine out of a lack of other foods to eat in the winter time. Beets were one of the things they could count on having throughout the winter. On Wikipedia it says they kept vegetable peelings outside in a covered pot. When there was nothing else to eat, they'd bring it to a boil, and Voila! Borscht! So, my point is, if you don't have all the ingredients such as meat or beans or some of the vegetables, you can still make borscht. The only real necessities are beets and water.

First, you put beans and meat in a half full pot of water to boil until meat is soft. The pot that I used holds 5 quarts. Then add carrots and beets. Meanwhile, cut potatoes into chunks and add. Add salt, then shredded cabbage, onions, and tomato paste. Add chopped pepper, parsley, 5 bay leaves, and oil. Let simmer for 30 minutes to an hour until beets are soft. It sounds so easy. What happens during the making of it is she adds groups of things in spurts. While they're boiling she hurries and prepares the next batch of things. So really, you're adding things every 5 to 7 minutes depending on how fast you chop or shred vegetables.

The Verdict:
Jonathan loved it with a plop of yogurt. Sherman loved it and asks for it often now. Hector loved it but especially the purple color of the potatoes. He won't touch white ones, but he'll feed himself the purple colored ones. I loved it because it's a meal in a bowl. Those are my favorite kinds of meals to prepare. Atticus and Cinci ate it out of duty without any complaints or vomiting.
So this recipe will find itself on my future two week menu plan when I return to the states and have no time for cooking. The Ukranians use a very natural, very rich sounding sour cream as a topping for the borscht. I don't know if any sour cream in the US would compare. Probably not. Jonathan and I throw plain (full fat) yogurt on everything that could use a topping. It was a nice touch. But someday I'll visit the Ukraine and have a real taste of that sour cream Luba's talking about.

1 comment:

Sarah Familia said...

Sounds yummy, and I think I can get all those ingredients here in Tunisia! I think I'll be making this next week. Thanks for the recipe.