Sunday, January 20, 2013

Soup #3/Beet Borscht

You will need:
3 tbs olive/grapeseed oil
6 beets, trimmed
2-3 lb stewing beef, cut into pieces
2 leeks, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4-1/2 head of cabbage (depending on how much you prefer)
2 yellow potatoes, cut into pieces
6 dill sprigs
5 tbs red wine vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
Salt and pepper
Sour Cream

Wash beets and cut off the leaves, leaving about 1 inch of stem and the root end (the spindly part that comes out the bottom of the beet). In a large sauce pan over medium heat, add the beets and fill with water to cover the beets about an inch. Simmer the beets until they are tender when poked with a fork, about 40-60 minutes. Transfer the beets to a colinder and save 2 cups of the beet juice for the soup. Rinse beets under cold water and peel (the top layer will come right off in your hand. Cut the beets into 3/4-1 inch pieces and set aside. 

In your soup pot, warm 2 tbsp oil. Brown the beef in batches for about 5-7 minutes each batch and transfer the meat to a separate plate. 

Now in the same pot, add the last tbsp of oil and saute the leeks carrots and potato until the leeks are softened (about 7 minutes). Add the two cups of beet juice that you saved from earlier, the beef, cabbage, tomato paste, and dill sprigs, and fill with water to desired amount (I filled my pot till it was almost 1 1/2 inches from the top, the cookbook recommends 2 1/2 qts). Stir the pot to scrape some of the brown bits off the bottom from when you browned the beef. Bring the soup to a simmer and cover partially, cooking until the beef is tender - about 1 1/2 hours. 

Add the cut up beets, the vinegar, brown sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove the dill sprigs from the soup.  Allow the soup to cook for 5-10 minutes longer. 

Ladle the borscht into bowls, and top it with a dollop of sour cream and some fresh cut dill.

Vegetarian? You can make this recipe without the beef. This was the first time I'd had a beef borscht, and it was yummy, but a veggie borscht is just as good. 

The Verdict:  Success! I thought this one came out super tasty. I'm a big fan of my mom's veggie borscht, and I was worried that this would pale in comparison. While there are a few things I would tweak, I really enjoyed the flavor. I had a bowl the next day - and it's even better after having soaked all night (the cookbook actually recommends cooking it a day in advance). 

What we'd do differently:  E has a much more distinct palate than I, and he has the ability to pick out specific flavors in dishes that I just can't do. His suggestions included not using the red wine vinegar. He could smell and taste it and didn't care for the flavor it added. To me, it made no difference to the dish whatsoever. He also thought that garlic might add a good zest too it, but I think it might be too over powering. All in all, we agreed it was a good soup, and we especially liked the beef in this one. 

Are you following along with the 52 soup project? Let us know what your cooking and trying this week, we'd love to hear!

Bon Apetit!