Borscht: low in fat, high on colour

It is nearly four decades since I first made some borscht, using a recipe that came with my first food processor. It was summer time in Perth, so I  served it as a cold soup.

In the cooler climes of Albany, where I spent a subsequent decade, and now Melbourne, I prefer to make it to be enjoyed as a warm soup. However, because there is hardly any fat content, the blended soup produced by my recipe works just as well as a cold soup.

The recipe integrates our selection of ideas about ingredients and method from various sources, including Terry Durack, Maggie Beer and Stephanie Alexander. The mix of root vegetables can be varied but we recommend that you use about 2 parts beetroot to 1 part other vegetables.

As well as being tasty and nutritious, borscht has a vibrant colour, not unlike the rosé wines made in the Barossa Valley from the fruit of old grenache vines. Think Turkey Flat, Charles Melton, Rockford … Happily, we will be in their vicinity next week.

Ingredients

40g unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
3 medium brown onions, chopped coarsely
Celery heart or two sticks of celery, chopped coarsely
800g beetroot, peeled and chopped coarsely
200g carrots, peeled and chopped coarsely
100g parsnip, chopped coarsely
100g Nicola or Desiree potatoes, peeled and chopped coarsely
2 litres chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sour cream for serving
2 tbsp snipped chives

Method

  1. Heat the butter and oil in a soup pot and sweat the onion gently for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent
  2. Add the celery and stir through; add the other vegetables and briefly sauté. Add stock, bay leaf, vinegar, tomato paste and sugar and bring to the boil.
  3. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are soft.
  4. Allow to cool partly, remove bay leaf, blend in batches and combine all batches. Adjust seasoning.
  5. In winter, gently reheat and serve with side bowls of chives and sour cream to be added at the table. In hot weather, cold borscht is very refreshing.

Borscht 1   Borscht 2

Borscht 3

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About rmgtravelsandfood

Maggie and I are both in our mid-60s and live in Melbourne, Australia. This blog is devoted to our shared passions for travel and fine dining at home. As cooks, we are skilful and adventurous within a framework of mainly traditional ingredients and techniques, and we aim to prepare nutritious food that looks good and tastes delicious. Our evolving repertoire is influenced by both our travels and Melbourne's vibrant food culture. While we are young enough, our priority travel destinations are overseas, although we do spend a few weekends each year exploring south-eastern Australia. As travellers, we are most comfortable with a combination of organised and independent touring. Our first overseas journey together was to Italy in the northern autumn of 2008. We later travelled in France (2009), Spain (2011), Singapore and Cambodia (2012/13). All trips from 2014 onwards are documented in this blog.
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