Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I am not a soup in the summer type of girl.  Honestly, I am not a hot coffee or hot tea or hot anything in the summer type of girl.  My body temperature seems to rise very quickly in the summer and then doesn't come back down.  So I usually coordinate my food with the temperature outside.  Warm foods in the winter and cold foods in the summer.  It helps keep me balanced.

So the idea of eating soup in the summer never really occurred to me, even when indoors and in air conditioning.  However, in recent trips to restaurants, my boyfriend has consistently ordered soup and then offered to share with me.  It turns out that soup in the summer is not that bad.  Let me interject: it should be eaten in a cool place!  Hmmm, so maybe this is a lesson that I need to be more open minded?

In this spirit, I decided to make borscht.  This is a traditional Ukrainian beet and vegetable soup.  There are many different versions of borscht, all delicious in their own way.  Unfortunately, I cannot claim that this is a secret family recipe.  Yes, my mom makes good borscht but it was not a staple food when I was growing up.  I had to reinvent the dish by referring to different recipes and picking what I liked.

Because this version includes tomatoes, it is more red in color.  Other recipes for borscht contain more beets so the soup is more purple in color.  And I promise for those of you who are not sure about eating beets (as I used to be, not that long ago), you can't even taste them!

(Note: the recipe is vegetarian but I threw in some cooked, shredded chicken to make the soup more filling.  The soup can be made without meat or by adding any type of meat that you may prefer).

makes 8 portions

1 potato, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups of beets, peeled and thinly sliced (I used beets that were already steamed and cleaned)
8 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 teaspoons salt
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced
3 cups chopped cabbage
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
sour cream or plain yogurt, for topping

1. In a large pot, add the potatoes and the vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil and then lower the temperature to a simmer.  Cook the potatoes for 10 minutes.  (If you are using fresh beet, also add the beets in at this stage).

2.  In the mean time, heat the butter over medium heat in a large frying pan.  Add the onions, celery, carrot, cabbage and cook for 5-10 minutes until the onions are soft.

3.  Now return to the large pot with the potatoes and stock.  Add the beets, and the other vegetables.  Add the cider vinegar, honey, tomato sauce, salt, and pepper.  Cook on low heat for about 45 minutes.

4.  Serve with fresh dill and a spoon of sour cream or yogurt.



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