Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Winter Vegetable Borscht

We had beets, so it was time to make borscht. According to James Meek, this was not without geopolitical implications:
What happens to the food that defines a world when that world vanishes? What happened, in particular, to the dish that was once the common denominator of the Soviet kitchen, the dish that tied together the peasant and the cosmonaut, the high table of the Kremlin and the meanest canteen in the boondocks of the Urals? What happened to the beetroot soup that pumped like a main artery through the kitchens of the east Slav lands? What happened to borshch?
(The full article from the Guardian is worth reading for murder, intrigue, travelogue, etc.)

As usual, we got the basic recipe from Epicurious (Beet and Cabbage Borscht), following the reader suggestions to increase the proportion of vegetables to broth, to omit the tomatoes, to add apple cider vinegar as well as lemon juice, and not puree the soup at the end.

A local blogger's Ukrainian-style borscht recipe gave us the confidence to throw in all our accumulated winter CSA vegetables: beets, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, parsnips, turnips/rutabagas, onions.

(Caution: Housemate Liz insisted to us 1) that she doesn't like borscht, and 2) that borscht is white. These claims seemed so absurd that we were forced to research them. It turns out Liz finds our borscht delectable and that there is a Polish white borscht, which has no beets but which includes such delicious ingredients as "sausage cooking water, fat removed" and hard-boiled eggs.)

P.S. I also made Mark Bittman's whole-wheat muffins with a last, giant, slightly bruised CSA apple to accompany the copious borscht leftovers.

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