Saturday, August 29, 2009
You cant Beat that Root!
Soups I have loved....
I have quite a vivid memory of my maternal Grandmother making Borscht, which is odd because I was very young when she died. I think I must have remembered it so clearly because the soup was such an amazing colour... so bright pink it's like something you would get in a sweet shop! I have a similar memory of my mother's Italian friend Fiorella feeding me bright green pea soup and being a little distressed, so she told me to close my eyes and pretend it wasn't green. It was so delicious my little 5 year old self resolved to try every food from then on, even if it looked a bit scary. SO I guess technically I have Fio to thank for my culinary obsessions now...I really must ask her for that pea soup recipe!
Anyway, my grandmother Frankie was a second generation polish immigrant, so id like to think that her version of this soup was totally authentic. I know my Mum has it written down somewhere, but I've cobbled this version together through reading various recipes and adapting them. Real authentic borscht involves braising and finely chopping a knuckle of beef, and making your own stock. It takes a LONG time... longer than 20 mins, which is how long my version takes. Also, real borscht should involve chopped chunks, and not be liquidised, but I prefer it smooth. This version is super easy, but still has the amazing concentrated beef and beetroot flavours and that essential sourness that is provided by the vinegar. It is important to use a good beef stock, Knorr stock pots are the most useful invention since the bread knife!
Continuing on the soup theme, my mum also makes the best chicken soup (recipe courtesy of Nana Frankie) which I will blog as soon as the weather turns nasty. Its a fail safe if you are feeling cold-y, flu-ey, or just a bit of the winter blues. Actually , I'm kind of looking forward to winter now that I think if it!
Ok, enough rambling, now for the recipe!
1 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
5-6 beetroots (raw! Don't buy the vacuum packed cooked kind!)
1 Litre good beef stock
2 dessert spoons good red wine vinegar
dollop sour cream to serve
In a large saucepan, saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until they are soft and translucent. Peel and chop the beetroots into cubes that are about an inch in diameter (if you want you can use rubber gloves as they do satin your hands quite a bit). Add these to the pot and cover them with the stock. Simmer for about 20 mins or until the vegetables are tender.
Using a stick blender, whizz everything up until it is smooth. (Alternatively, if you don't have a blender, you could chop the beetroots into very small cubes, simmer until tender and serve that way. Or you could pass them through a sieve. All this is just hard work. Buy a stick blender. They cost less that €20 and you can use them for SO many things!)
Add the vinegar and stir. taste, and adjust the seasoning if you think it needs salt and pepper, or more vinegar. The vinegar is important as it totally changes the flavour. you could use lemon juice either, but vinegar is nicer, a bit more 'pickley' I think.
This soup is really really healthy by itself. If you want to make it less healthy, serve it with a big dollop of sour cream. I didn't have any so I just used normal cream for the photos.