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Two-way borscht ... hot and hearty, or cool and light.

Two-way borscht . . . hot and hearty, or cool and light In Russia, borscht is a favorite element of many meals. This popular beet soup comes in various forms and flavors. Here, we show two versions--one hot and hearty, the other cool and light--from Sonia Melnikova-Eichenwald, a recent Russian immigrant. Both can be made ahead.

Mrs. Melnikova-Eichenwald loads her hot soup with vegetables and fresh herbs. She prefers an all-vegetable version, but you can add meat for a richer flavor.

The cold borscht uses spring beets with their tender tops. Add hard-cooked eggs, sour cream, cucumbers, and radishes to make a refreshing warm-weather meal.

Sonia's Hot Winter Borscht 5 to 7 large beets (about 4 lb. total) 6 cups water 4 to 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar 3 tablesppons salad oil 2 large onions, chopped 3 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped 1 small yellow or red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped 3 large Roma-type tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped 3 to 3-1/2 quarts regular-strength beef broth Seasoning packet (recipe follows) 4 pounds beef shanks (optional) 4 large russet potatoes (about 2-1/2 lb. total), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes 1 small head cabbage (3/4 lb.), cored and finely chopped 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves or 2 tablespoons dry basil leaves 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced Salt 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons chopped parsley 1 cup sour cream 1/3 cup chopped fresh dill or 2 tablespoons dry dill weed Lemon wedges (optional) Small dried hot red chilies

Trim tops off beets, leaving about 1 inch of stems attached. Save tops for other uses or discard. Scrub and rinse beets well.

In a 10- to 12-quart pan, combine beets, water, and 1/4 cup vinegar. Cover, bring to a boil, then simmer until beets are tender when pierced, about 45 minutes. With a slotted spoon, lift beets out of pan and let cool. Pour cooking liquid into a bowl and reserve. Rinse pan.

Add oil and onions to pan; Stir often over medium-high heat until limp, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and bell pepper; stir often until vegetables are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.

Add broth (use 3-1/2 quarts if you add meat) and seasoning packet to pan, and bring to boiling. (Add meat, if desired, and return to boiling. Cover and simmer until meat is very tender when pierced, about 2 hours. Lift out and let cool. Remove and discard fat and bones. Tear meat into bite-size pieces. Skim fat.)

Add potatoes. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced, 15 to 20 minutes. Add cabbage, cover, and simmer until cabbage is limp, about 10 minutes. Discard seasoning packet.

Remove skin, stems, and root ends from beets. Cut beets into about 1-inch wedges, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Set aside.

Add sliced beets, reserved beet cooking liquid, meat pieces, and chopped basil to pan. Bring to boiling. Stir in garlic; add salt, sugar, and 1 to 2 tablespoons more vinegar to taste. (If made ahead, cool, cover, and chill. Reheat to serve.) Ladle into a large tureen or individual bowsl. Sprinkle with parsley. Offer sour cream, dill, lemon, and dried red chilies to add to each serving. Makes 10 entree servings (16 if you've added meat), or 20 to 30 first-course servings.--Sonia Melkinova-Eichenwald, San Francisco.

Seasoning packet. In a 15- by 24-inch piece of cheesecloth, tie up 2 stalks celery, cut in half; 4 sprigs fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dry dill weed; 3 sprigs parsley; 1 bay leaf; 8 black peppercorns; 8 whole allspice; and 1 small dried hot red chili.

Sonia's Cold Spring Borscht 12 or 13 small beets (about 3 lb. total) with tops 1 quart water 4 to 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar 2 quarts regular-strength chicken broth Seasoning packet (recipe follows) 3 large russet potatoes (1-1/2 lb. total), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar Salt 1 cup sour cream 1/2 cup thinly sliced chives or green onion 3 or 4 hard-cooked eggs, cut in half 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill or 2 tablespoons dry dill weed 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced 1 lemon, cut into wedges, optional 6 to 12 red radishes, whole or sliced

Trim tops off beets, leaving about 1 inch attached. Slice leaves crosswise into 1/4-inch strips; rinse well, drain, and set aside. Scrub beets and rinse well.

In a 5- to 6-quart pan, combine beets, water, and 1/4 cup vinegar. Cover, bring to a boil, then simmer until beets are tender when pierced, about 30 minutes. With a slotted spoon, lift beets out of pan and let cool. Pour cooking liquid into a bowl; reserve. Rinse pan.

To the pan add broth and seasoning packet; cover and bring to boiling. Add potatoes; cover and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove stems, root ends, and peel from beets. Shred beets.

When potatoes are tender, add beet tops; simmer, uncovered, until tops wilt, 3 to 4 minutes. Add shredded beets, reserved beet cooking liquid, garlic, sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons more vinegar, and salt to taste. Cool, cover, and chill until cold, at least 4 hour or up to next day.

Remove and discard seasoning packet. Pour into a tureen and offer sour cream, chives, eggs, dill, cucumber, and lemon to add to each serving. Serve radishes whole to eat with soup, or sliced to add to soup. Makes 8 entree or 16 first-course servings.

Seasoning packet. In a 15- by 24-inch piece of cheesecloth, tie up 1 large onion, quartered; 2 stalks celery, cut in half; 4 sprigs fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dry dill weed; and 3 sprigs parsley.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Publication:Sunset
Date:Mar 1, 1988
Words:979
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