Jun 14, 2016

Borsch - the most important of possessions

For most this will only be just an odd looking beetroot soup. For me, it is a bit more than that.

It's Kiev.  The old town sitting tall on the steep hills, hugged tightly by the river. In summer, it's narrow streets drenched in heady, sweet lilac, and chestnut blossom, loved generously by the sun. In winter it snows in large flakes, and  turns shiny, glim and ever more mysterious in the dark.

Kiev is grandma's borsch. Flushed pink and pungent, impossible to forget and not to go back too.

At twenty three, I went through Australian boarder security with two hundred dollars, a suit case, a new husband, and a baby bump. Who needs more to start a new life I say.What I didn't know, is that beetroot soup came too, undeclared. In fact, it was the most important of possessions.

A lifetime or two decades later it still is. After all, the most important of possessions is who you are.


Method
This is a vegetarian option, but you can also use meet or chicken stock.
Serves 4-6

Vegetable stock
(makes 2-3 litres)
2 leeks, chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves
fresh herbs
1 lemon, sliced
4 liters of cold water
2 star anise
white wine
salt, pepper
Put everything in a large pot and bild for 30 minutes. Strain through muslin before use.

Soup
300g beetroot, peeled and chopped into sticks
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 small red chili
2-3 garlic gloves
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 capsicum, chopped
2-3 tomato roughly chopped
2 medium potatoes, cut in small cubes
1/2  cabbage, shredded
1 tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 or 4 pitted prunes
salt and sugar to taste
1/2 bunch of dill, chopped
sour cream to serve

1. Bring the stock to a simmer. Add the beetroot.
2. After about 10-15 min add potato to the borsch.
3. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan. Add the onion, carrot, chili and garlic and cook over a medium heat, stirring until the carrot starts caramelising.
4. Add the  capsicum  and the tomato paste, cook it out for a few minutes, then add the grated fresh tomato, stir, reduce slightly and add all this to the  borsch.
5. Add the shredded cabbage, the kidney beans and prunes. Cook until the cabbage is tender. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and chopped dill.