Cathy’s Kitchen Prescription LLC
I’ve been thinking about my dad today and how much he loved borscht. Earthy and sweet with lightly tangy undernotes, borscht is the ultimate comfort food and the best of homey, nutritious, peasant fare. Borscht is delicious at any time of year but particularly during colder months when beets and other root vegetables and cabbage are at their sweetest.
Ukrainian in origin and beloved throughout Eastern and Central Europe, Scandinavia, and even in parts of Central Asia. Borscht was carried by Ashkenazi Jews throughout the diaspora. Each people put its own mark on borscht, resulting in infinite variations. Some contain meat, others not. Some are thick and chunky, others clear and brothy, and some are blended and creamy. Sometimes borscht is served hot, sometimes cold. In its earliest variations, borscht was soured with fermented beets or sour rye berries. More recent versions, like this one, make use of vinegar and tomato.
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Serves 6 to 8
6 to 8 cups no-sodium vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
2 large potatoes, scrubbed or peeled, cut in a medium dice
½ small green cabbage, cut in a medium dice
3 apple-sized red beets, scrubbed or peeled, cut in a medium dice
1 large onion, cut in a medium dice
1 large carrot, scrubbed or peeled, cut in a medium dice
1 large stalk celery, cut in a medium dice
1 large parsnip or parsley root, cut in a medium dice
1 large leek, well cleaned, cut in ¼” slices
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1teaspoon dried marjoram or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
Grinds of black pepper
1/3 cup Shiro (mild, white) miso paste, diluted with water, to taste
Garnishes: fresh dill sprigs, chopped fresh parsley, and/or fresh thyme leaves, a spoonful of cultured soy yogurt
In a soup pot heat 6 cups of the vegetable broth. When it comes to a simmer, add the bay leaves, cloves, potato, beets, and cabbage. Cook at a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.
At the same time heat a large skillet on medium-low for 3 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, stirring occasionally. Cover and gently sweat the vegetables until they release their water in about 5 minutes. Lower the heat if they begin to adhere and deglaze with a spoonful or two of vegetable broth.
Add the parsnip or parsley root, garlic, marjoram, and leek, adding a minimal amount of broth to prevent sticking. Sauté for 5 to 10 minutes longer or until the mix is fragrant and the vegetables are nearly cooked.
When the potatoes, beets, and cabbage are nearly soft, add the vegetables from the skillet.
Remove 2 cups of broth from the pot, pouring 1 cup into one bowl and 1 into another. Dilute the miso paste in one bowl, stirring it until it is smooth and pourable. Set the diluted miso aside for now. Dilute the tomato paste into the other, stirring it until it dissolves, and then add it back to the pot.
Cook the borscht for a few minutes more. All the vegetables should be soft but still intact. Season the pot with wine vinegar and pepper to taste, and correct seasonings as you like.
Serve in heated bowls. As you plate the soup, stir in a spoonful or two of the diluted miso paste, to taste. Garnish with the fresh herbs and top with a nice big spoonful of soy yogurt.
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