Saturday, 6 June 2020

Beetroot Season! Recipe 1: Borscht (Beetroot Soup/Stewp/Stew)

Borscht: Beetroot Soup/Stewp/Stew

It's beetroot season! Our local fruit and veg store has the most amazing, gigantic bunches available, so last weekend I grabbed two. There is nothing like fresh beetroot, and even better if it includes the greens, so I wanted to share three recipes to make use of the roots, stems, and greens to make the most.

When I get the beetroots, I will immediately wash them and divide them into their constituent parts. The roots, I'll put in the fridge and save to make borscht or roast vegetables: they'll tend to last 2 - 3 weeks before they begin to dry out. The stems, I'll pickle quickly, as once separated from the root, they will become flaccid within a day or two. The greens, I'll seal in a container with some paper towels, and use them within a few days; thankfully, braising the greens to use in pierogi means they're a little more forgiving if you keep them slightly beyond their prime.

First up, the roots! With the weather cooling down, it's hard to go past soup, and borscht is absolutely incredible. I always thought that it would be bland, but it's so flavourful, so satisfyingly filling and that colour!

I adapted my recipe from the SBS Food Safari, with a few modifications based on others I've read (I'm embarrassed to say I can't remember where they were from, because I'm pretty sure the Food Safari one wasn't the first I read, but that's what you get for researching recipes after a few wines), and also because I am terrible at following recipes, and adapt based on how I'm feeling and what I have available. Oh, and to veganise it, of course.

You'll need 1kg of beetroots roots for this; best to give them a good wash, giving particular attention to the gaps between the stems where dirt can easily collect.

Over the next few days, come back because I'll also be sharing recipes for pierogi (using the beetroot greens) and quick pickle beetroot stems, so don't throw anything away! I'll add the links to this when I post them.

Cut the 1kg of beetroot into roughly similar sized pieces (that is: half the smaller ones, quarter the larger ones). Place in a large saucepan and cover with 2L of stock (either vegetarian chicken-style, or homemade vegetable) and a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of white wine vinegar.

Put on the stove and bring to a boil, then lower the heat slightly to keep at a low boil for approximately 40 minutes.

While these are cooking, roughly chop 1 brown onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 tomatoes, 1 stalk of celery and 3 white potatoes and set these aside.

Once 40 minutes has passed, use a ladle to pick one of the larger pieces out: you should be able to slice through it with a butter knife. If it’s still hard, continue to cook, checking at 10 minute intervals.

Once cooked through, remove the beetroot with the ladle or tongs and set aside, then strain the stock into a large bowl or measuring cup and reserve (removing the beetroot before straining prevents the stock from splashing you).

Return the pot to the heat. Add olive oil (1 to 2 tablespoons), then add the onion mix. Sauté over medium heat until onions become translucent.

Add in the beetroot back in.

Add enough water to the reserved stock to bring it up to 2L and then add that too.

Finally, add 1 tablespoon of yeast extract (vegemite, marmite or alternative) and either a handful of dill or a few sprigs each of thyme and oregano.

Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Allow to rest for a couple of minutes and then blend until smooth (if using a a stick mixer, make sure you keep the head and blades under the surface to ensure it doesn’t splatter). Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of white wine vinegar.

Serve garnished with a dollop of vegan sour cream* or yoghurt, and some chopped dill or herbs of your choice; if you're feeling particularly beetroot-y, top the sour cream or yoghurt with pickled beetroot stems!

I'm not kidding when I say this is filling, so start with a smaller bowl and go back for seconds. I guarantee you will!

If you have any leftovers, this freezes really well (and is a beautiful, magenta surprise each time you open the freezer!)

*Because it's hard to find a vegan sour cream where I live, I buy plain yoghurt (usually coconut yoghurt) and then stir through a few teaspoons of white vinegar, lemon juice, and a good pinch of salt (taste and adjust the seasoning to taste).

Let me know how you go with this recipes, and any variations that you try!

I'll endeavour to get the other recipes published over the next week or so, and will link them together once they're done.

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