19 October 2009

Rusyn-Italo-American Borscht

Borscht is one of my favorite soups, and I've been wanting to make it for weeks.  Stumbling across this blog and this recipe just made me even more anxious to do it.  On 25 September, the following exchange began on Facebook:
So, finally I'll give some thoughts on the recipe, and you can also read some usually not-punny thoughts on TV and media from my friend Tim.

First off. Vladimir Lavenko: who are you, where are you from, can we please have some more really good Rusyn recipes?? Am totally wanting to make the rice pudding next.

To comment on the recipe: it's soup. I've got most of the ingredients already, but I'm not going to follow the recipe exactly, because it's soup. Variations are the spice of life.

Above are most of my 'fresh' ingredients: bacon, carrot of indeterminate age, red potatoes, and Savoy cabbage.  Regular cabbage is generally not allowed in the Silvestri house -- and once you've had Savoy, it's hard to go back in terms of taste and texture.  The recipe calls for sausage, which we didn't have, but we always have bacon!  And yes, bacon is a vegetable.

So I started out by rendering the bacon in the pot (my signature style is to cut bacon with scissors), and then added a quart of chicken broth and a quart of regular water (recipe calls for 2 quarts of water).  Peeling the beets (from our garden!) was a relative pain, as they were small and squishy.  Instead of shredding them, which could have taken off a slice of my purple digits, I just sliced them really thin and added them to my boiling bacon-y broth.

It takes a long time for the beets to lose their color -- don't know how long, but a while.  The beets had been sitting out on our kitchen counter for a few days waiting for me to get to them, and they were not very consistently textured.  But the beets really do lose their color:

I did follow the recipe in the order in which I added things to the soup.  Beets first, then potatoes and shredded carrots, then the cabbage and tomatoes.  Again, the Savoy cabbage is amazing, and it doesn't lose its bite when it's been sitting in soup for a while.  While I was waiting for the potatoes and carrots to cook, I sautéed some onions in butter, and added those in after the cabbage -- we didn't have any tomato paste, so none of that, but the last thing I did do was to add in some raw garlic along with salt, pepper, and some red wine vinegar.

To finish, I went out to the garden to get some fresh parsley and chopped up some of that -- there will be dill in the garden next summer, I swear!  Plus some sour cream, which is a must with borscht.

Here was the finished result, which I promptly ate three bowls of:

I found it to be very hearty, and very, very tasty.

Since the fresh beets are gone and canned already, and the canned beets are on their way to being eaten really quickly, I'll probably be experimenting over the winter with borscht with not fresh beets, which is sad but may need to happen. 

If you try to make borscht, let me know how it goes!

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