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.
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
- Heat the butter and oil in a soup pot and sweat the onion gently for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent
- 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.
- Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are soft.
- Allow to cool partly, remove bay leaf, blend in batches and combine all batches. Adjust seasoning.
- 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.