W has asked for a good Borscht recipe after reading my Beet post, so I’m posting the recipe Alison and I use, although we rarely make it just as written — in fact I don’t think we’ve ever made and used the kvas as a flavoring instead of lemon juice, but I’m intrigued and we may try this soon. We’ll let you know how it goes.
In fact, we often don’t use the beef broth either, substituting another quart of water to make a mostly vegetarian soup (if you don’t account for the bacon). We also don’t purée the vegetables, and leave everything chopped and chunky. We will serve it with whole milk yogurt, not sour cream, which keeps the calories down, but gives the same creamy kick. We rarely bother with the fresh dill, however, though.
Alison often makes a gallon or so of borscht at a time, freezes some, and keeps the rest on hand for lunches and a few dinners that week. This is a perfect soup for our garden, where we grow all of these vegetables, and if they’re not available fresh, we have them in storage in the root cellar.
Enjoy! and let us know what you think (and how you adjust it) if you try this your self.
(UPDATE: The recipe below is transcribed directly from The Victory Garden Cookbook, although we use this only as guidance, and probably make ours a little different every time. Marc has tested it for himself and posted his own re-write of this recipe as a comment that may make more sense to a first-timer. )
From The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash
In Eastern Europe, where borscht is king, you could eat a different borscht every week of the year, and each would be authentic. Although borscht is thought of as a beet dish, the workd means any soup made with a variety of vegetables
My version is easy to fix, yet retains the qualities found in a more time-consuming preparation. I flaver with kvas, a traditional fermented beet liquid, but it’s not necessary; substitute lemon juice if you wish. Notice that the vegetables are simmered to preserve the red color of the beets; boiling turns them sienna brown. Borscht ages well; in fact, my family prefers it the next day or even later in the week. Served with sour cream, black bread, and sweet butter, you’ll have a hearty and satisfying meal.
2 thick slices of bacon
1 large onion
2 stalks celery
1 large beet
2 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh tomato pulp or canned plum tomatoes
1 cup peeled and chopped potatoes
1 quart beef stock
1 quart water
6 sprigs parsley
1 tsp. salt
2 cups julienned or coarsely grated beets
1 cup julienned or coarsely grated carrots
4 Tbsp butter
3 cups shredded cabbage
Freshly ground pepper
Kvas (see recipe below) or fresh lemon juice
Fresh dill (optional)
Chop bacon, blanch for 5 minutes in boiling water, drain, and dry thoroughly. Lightly brown bacon in a frying pan. Remove bacon and reserve the fat. Chop onion and celery and sauté in bacon fat until barely wilted and lightly colored. Wash and grate beet, and halve garlic.
Place the bacon, onion, celery, beet, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, stock, water, peppercorns, parsley, and salt into a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Remove vegetables and put through the finest disk of a food mill, sieve, discarding pulp and seeds. Add the purée to the broth.
Sauté julienned beets and carrots in 2 tablespoons butter for 5 minutes. Add to the soup base and simmer for 15 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, braise cabbage in remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large frying pan, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until wilted and slightly colored. Add to soup and simmer 15 minutes longer. Taste for seasoning, add pepper and salt if necessary; add sufficient kvas or lemon juice to give a slightly tart, but not sour, taste. Just before serving, heat to boiling and add dill if you like. Dish up with a spoonful of sour cream on each serving. (The dill can also be assed as a garnish). Makes 2 quarts.
For a heartier meal, simmer 1 pound brisket, 1 pound meaty shinbone, and 1 teaspoon salt in 2 quarts of water or combination of water and beef stock for 1 hour. Then simmer vegetables in this meat stock for 45 minutes, as above. When straining, reserver meat to add to finished soup.
8-10 beets, peeled
1/2 cup milk
2 slices bread (preferably rye or whole wheat)
Chop beets, place in a crock or glass container, cover with lukewarm water, add milk, and top with bread. Cover and keep in a warm place until fermented. It will take anywhere from 24 hours to 3 days to ferment, although you can speed up the fermentation by placing the crock near the pilot light on a stove.
Strain and store in a glass container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Kvas will keep in the refrigerator for a week or two.
Kvas can be used to flavor and color other dishes as well, as a substitute for lemon juice.