Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Using the CSA Basket: Borscht

As I've mentioned before, we've been subscribing to a CSA share from the same farm for two and a half years. We fell into the share almost by accident--I'd never heard of CSA, and actually thought that shopping at the farmers market was too expensive. Then, it came about that someone from the English department where I was studying wanted to pass off their CSA for the summer; we took it over, and by the end of the season made up our minds to not give up our share. That first year, it was a little challenging to make good use of everything in our weekly basket--we were figuring out what to do with the bounty of fresh vegetables, especially in early spring. Now, however, nothing goes to waste. As I mentioned earlier, I'm particularly happy with the contents of this week's basket, as I can almost see how I will use all the vegetables. Once I saw the beets, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage, I knew that they would be destined for borscht.

I grew up on borscht; it's the quintessential soup for people of Russian and Ukrainian heritage. The versions that I remember always contained meat, and were cooked for a good long while (to cook the meat), so the vegetables would be all dyed a vibrant magenta. I've only made the soup a few times on my own, and actually haven't made it since my mother criticized my preparation of it ("no meat? no sour cream? you put vinegar into it?!"). With this recipe, I decided to make a soup that had the spirit of borscht, but retained the integrity and distinctive flavors of the vegetables. I think it turned out quite well--a filling, but light soup that is translucently pink and very tasty. The vinegar (or kraut) is not absolutely necessary, but it provides a nice contrast to the root vegetables.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 small/medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 3 small/medium beets, diced
  • 3 small/medium potatoes, diced
  • 2 sprigs of parsley
  • 1/2 head of a small cabbage
  • 1.5 teaspoons vegetable bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 quarts of water
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1.5 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or 1/3 cup sauerkraut with brine)
  • 2-3 sprigs of dill, minced
  1. Warm the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium soup pot while preparing the onion and garlic. Once the oil is hot, turn the heat to medium and add onion.
  2. Sauté the onion for a few minutes, until translucent, and add the garlic. While the onion and garlic are cooking, slice carrots and dice celery. Proceed to add the carrots and celery to the soup pot. Continue by dicing the beets and potatoes, and adding them to the pot, and so on with parsley and cabbage.
  3. Once all the vegetables are in the pot, stir and sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add water, salt and bouillon. Place lid on pot and bring soup to a boil; once the soup comes to a boil, lower heat and simmer soup for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, the potatoes should be cooked; add pepper, vinegar, dill, and stir to combine. Taste and adjust spices. Serve with extra dill and a dollop of sour supreme.


radioactivegan said...

I have a lot of these things from my CSA, too. I think I see borsht in my future. Does it freeze okay?

zemmely said...

I don't think it'd freeze well because of all the vegetables--they'd change texture. The soup made about four generous servings, so I think you could make it an eat it during the week without freezing it. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

Katie Ries said...

I'm trying a modified version (we have fewer beets in our half share). Will let you know how it goes when I see you tonight.

zemmely said...

Hurray (to both of those)!

radioactivegan said...

I made this today, and it is so good! I had to leave out the celery because I don't have any, but I figured it was okay since, as your mom so kindly pointed out, it's not a traditional borscht anyway ... lol. Thanks for the recipe :) I don't think it'll be a problem at all to finish it.

zemmely said...

I'm so glad that you like it! I've got some more beets, and I'm seriously thinking about making it again. I really like how this latest rendition turned out.

mb said...

Hi - I found your blog randomly while looking for polenta recipes. I also love borsch (we spell it without the "t" here), but I was raised on the Doukhobor variety. So while this is most definitely Russian borsch, it's also vegetarian in its Doukhobor essence: http://mynug.blogspot.com/2011/12/blog-post_23.html

Love your blog - it makes me miss Tennessee a little.

zemmely said...

Thank you for the nice comment! I, too, had never put a "t" in borsch--it's just a formality. I laugh a little every time I write it with the "t." I grew up eating the "improper" kind of borsch, with meat--but since I've been vegan for about 4 years, and still love the beet/cabbage/dill combination, I've been making it the vegetarian way. I've never tried it with the potatoes mashed, but I just might, next time that I make it.