Can’t Beet This Soup: Borscht

Soup’s on.

Actually, soup was on two days ago, but as I put the finishing touches in the pot, I realized that I forgot to buy both the parsley and the dill.  Fail.  Then I meant to put it on yesterday, but I got distracted by baking. Lots of baking.  Fail again.

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My favorite lemon and chocolate on chocolate

BUT Today- success! So, here’s the soup.

Borscht is a beet soup very popular in many Ukrainian and Eastern European countries. To be honest, when I first thought of Russian food, it was at the forefront of my mind, so with that, I figured I had to make it. Not surprisingly, I found countless variations based on region and no doubt on family, not all of them even containing beets (in China, they use a tomato/tomato paste base). It can be served hot or cold.  Some had spinach, some cabbage, some beef stock, some with bacon, some vegetarian.

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So…I could think of nothing better to do then to take the best bits of all of them and make my own.

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I feel like I’ve been very meat-heavy lately, so this is a vegetarian delight, light enough to taste clean, but for some reason hearty enough feeling to make it appropriate for winter.  I wonder if it’s the color? Even if that’s the case, it had my stomach fooled.  Another reason that this appealed to me is because besides the fact that I adore beets in any way shape and form, the cabbage in it had a very homey Hungarian feel to it. And, since I’m the Hungary Buddha, it was a taste of home.

I will also note that I took a shortcut and used canned beets, mostly because I was too lazy to peel and clean fresh ones.  Yup, it was one of those days.  I’ve put the weight equivalent of the real deal in the ingredients if you steer clear of canned veg.  And while traditionally finished off with sour cream, I instead added a dollop of goat cheese because I liked the contrast of the tangy cheese with the sweet soup.

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Serves 4-6

Ingredients

½ pound beets, peeled and cut into matchsticks or 1 can of peeled, whole beets

1 medium yellow onion, sliced into a half-moon shape

½ Granny Smith apple, shredded

1 large carrot, peeled and shredded

½ pound white cabbage, shredded

1 TB olive oil or butter

4 cups vegetable stock (you can also use beef for more traditional flavor)

1 lemon, juiced

2 TB horseradish

2 TB flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 TB fresh dill, chopped

Goat cheese, to dollop

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. In a stock pot over medium heat, add the olive oil.  Sauté the carrots, beets, apple and onions with your desired level of salt and pepper until soft, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the horseradish and cook a minute more.

2.  Add the shredded cabbage and the stock. Bring to a boil and simmer 15-25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. With a few minutes left, add the parsley and dill.

3.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, then squeeze in the lemon juice.  Serve with a bit of goat cheese.

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