I’ve been busy. Busy working, socializing, blogging at Healthy and Sane; busy watching tv (waaaay too much tv – I’m a true tv addict; I stopped discriminating at this point. I’ve pretty much lost this past weekend to Ugly Betty on Netflix streaming. Yes, it’s been ugly for sure). And when I get busy I look for kitchen shortcuts or enjoy fine meals out that someone else cooks for me. I’ve even blogged on many occasions (like here, here and here) about quick meals when life gets hectic and in every post, the most frequent suggestion by my readers has been SOUP. Soup made on Sunday night that can be enjoyed for lunch for the rest of the week or can even be frozen for future nights a few months away.
But you see, I didn’t really get it. I don’t think of soup as something too filling. And if I’m honest, I generally think: soup is SO BORING. Mature, I know! Well, I’ve been meaning to make borsht for a while to post here on Russian Bites. I think it’s one of the few Russian dishes that most people know (although I believe have never tried) and it seemed important to include it here. And I liked it fine growing up so I wanted to see how my more grown-up palette would react. Could there be soup I can eat day in and day out and never get sick of?
The answer is yes. I will say I’m biased. Every time I make one of my mom’s Russian recipes, I’m instantly brought back to my childhood and it’s a pretty good place. A place where stress and food guilt do not exist. Food was simple and delicious. And pickles were enjoyed at almost every meal. Like I said, a pretty good place.
Well, borsht has no pickles but simple ingredients like beets, carrots, cabbage and potatoes are transformed into a hearty soup that I looked forward to every day for a whole week. My husband who’s not fond of beets or cabbage even enjoyed a bowl the first night and said it’s “not bad.” I’ll take that as a compliment! [And really, you should try it!!].
Note: Borscht can be made by using any shchi (cabbage soup) recipe with added shredded beets. This time around I used my mom’s recipe. Come make it with me!!
Ingredients (make a 3-4Q pot full of soup)
- 1 large beet, shredded
- 3-4 medium carrots, shredded
- 1/2 small cabbage (or 1/4 of a large one) – shredded
- 3 medium potatoes, cut into small cubes
- 8 cups of broth (I used chicken, beef or vegetable would work fine as well)
- 1/2 14oz can of diced tomatoes
- 2T tomato paste
- 8oz shredded (cooked) chicken – optional
- salt, citric acid and a pinch of sugar, all to taste
- sour cream (to finish)
For some reason I assumed this would be a lengthy process but everything came together really quickly.
1. Get your veggies ready.
2. Place all veggies in the pot, cover with broth two-thirds of the way high (fill with water if you don’t have enough broth).
Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes.
The veggies will cook down substantially!
3. Taste potatoes for doneness. When cooked (still firm), add salt, citric acid (a few tablespoons – I like my borsht a bit sour) and a pinch of sugar to balance the flavors. Let simmer for another 2 minutes.
4. Add diced tomatoes. I had whole stewed on hand so I cut them up before adding.
… and shredded cooked chicken (this is not traditional but I liked that the chicken added more staying power and really made this into a one-dish meal!)
Let simmer for a few minutes so that the tomatoes and the chicken absorb all the soup flavors.
Taste again for seasoning. It should be sour with a slight sweetness.
Don’t forget a nice dollop of sour cream!!!
Actually a big hunk of crusty bread for soaking up every morsel is also a must!
I find the beet/cabbage flavors to be quite mellow so definitely don’t be afraid of this soup if you’re not head-over heels for these ingredients!
If you make this, you can brag to your friends that you actually tried borsht (there were “bragging” rights for those who tried it at our pre-wedding rehearsal dinner – everyone actually liked it!). Let me know how it goes.