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Borscht

When I was younger and a dedicated vegetarian, my mother picked up a paperback copy of the seminal vegetarian guide Laurel’s Kitchen. There was something kind of mystical and wholesome about that book and the lifestyle it espoused, the way the women sat about in their prairie dresses around a wood table, long hair pinned back, kneading bread, having significant moments, discussing the finer points of, say, mung beans. It seemed quiet and peaceful and idyllic to me back then – glorified, simple. No longer vegetarian, I kind of forgot about the book, having relegated it to the dusty annals of my hippie years.

So it was a pleasant surprise, then, when I got in touch with an old roommate about her borscht recipe, the first I’d tried and also my favorite, and she told me that it was adapted from Laurel’s Kitchen. We lived in Santa Cruz then. Of course.

Every winter I get a strong hankering for the stuff, for its knockout color and intense contrast of sweet and tart and salty. I am convinced that its shocking magenta is capable of warding off winter doldrums. The strong flavors of the beet are tempered by the stock, the dill and the vinegar, making it more palatable for those who may not enjoy beets alone. It’s easy and quick enough to make on a weeknight, and would serve a family well or be a great workaday lunch throughout the week.

BORSCHT
Yield: about 6 servings

1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup water
4 medium red beets, peeled and diced
1 large potato, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 cup fresh dill, minced, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
salt + pepper to taste
yogurt or sour cream for garnish

In a large pot, warm 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and saute until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the broth, water, beets, potato, carrots and bay leaf and cover. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked. Add the cabbage and the fresh dill and simmer for another 5 minutes or so. Turn off heat and add the vinegar. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Ladle into bowls and finish with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, and a sprinkling of dill.

Borscht!

  • Lynda - Oh, the color! I have finally conquered my aversion to beets, if nothing else due to their stunning color. Now I can’t get enough of them.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Warren - I love borscht as well- it is deeply rooted in my Russian heritage! Lately I have been roasting my beets with some olive oil salt and pepper before adding them to the stock pot. I find this intensifies the beet-i-ness of the soup and give the soup a more purple color.

    Your picture is beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Meda - A healthy and colourful way to enjoy vegetables! The presentation is simply beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • Mika - There are so many recipes for borscht, everytime I think to try one of them I got scared…
    Your borscht catched my attention…nice recipeReplyCancel

  • Rita - Your pics and recipes are always so beautiful!!! I adore them. You should submit your pics to foodgawker…
    BTW, I just want to tell you that I nominated you for the Stylish Blogger Award, because I love your blog! Check out my page to see it.ReplyCancel

  • Jun - I go nuts for everything in clean and crisp white. Your blog is fabulous! You are now my new favorite!ReplyCancel

  • leela - borsht, it feeds the soul in its beautiful color and delicate flavor!ReplyCancel

  • branny - I was just seeking out borscht recipes last week. Your pictures are wonderful. Did you try it cold?ReplyCancel

  • kimberley - @Lynda: It’s funny how people either love or hate beets. The color is an amazing thing.
    @Meda: thanks!
    @Mika: Hopefully you’ll muster the courage to give it a shot. Are you scared of the beets staining everything?
    @Rita: Oh goodness gracious! I actually do submit photos to Foodgawker. Thanks so much, I’m flattered. :)
    @Jun: Thank you thank you!
    @leela: it does indeed. :)
    @branny: I did try it cold, but only one bite. I hope this one works out well for you.ReplyCancel

  • Justin - I love beets and this recipe. Im very excited to go ahead and make it again. This time for others but the cooks rewards is in the tasting it. ThanksReplyCancel

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