Sunday, January 12, 2014

Borscht (Eastern European beetroot soup)

I want to say my immense love of beets is behind the idea of this soup, but not at all! I actually do not even like beets that much. However, there is something so comforting about the piping hot vinegary taste of Borscht, not to mention the hypnotizing deep burgundy color of this delicious Eastern European soup...

I'd been toying with the idea of making Borscht for the blog (and for my tummy, too!) for a few months, when I saw a video on Youtube yesterday of a lady preparing one for her family. This was the trigger and I decided right then and there that I would be cooking Borscht for my next PITK recipe.

Here it is guys! Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS (for 4 people):
for the broth:
- 1.5 lbs pork belly, with rind
- 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and quartered
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut in large chunks
- 2 to 3 bay leaves (fresh or dry)
- 10 black peppercorns
- a big pinch of salt
- 12 cups of water
for the soup:
- 2 lbs of red beets
- 1/2 small head of green cabbage
- a bunch of fennel leaves (I should have used dill, but only had fennel at hand)
- 1/4 cup white vinegar (not pictured)
- a dollop of sour cream and a few dill/fennel leaves for serving (not pictured)

- in a deep stock pot, heat a splash of vegetable oil and brown the pork (skin down), onions and carrots on high heat until caramelized

- season with a healthy pinch of salt, the bay leaves and peppercorns and add the 12 cups of water

- bring back to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour

- drain the stock, discard the vegetables and thinly slice the meat against the grain after removing as much of the fat as possible

- bring the clear broth back to a simmer, then add the beetroots peeled and cubed and cook for 30 minutes on medium-high heat

- after 30 minutes, add the shredded cabbage, chopped fennel and meat into the soup and cook for another 15-20 minutes, or until the cabbage is cooked through. If the liquid evaporates too much, you can complement with beef broth, vegetable broth or just water

- when the vegetables are done, turn off the heat and add 1/4 cup of white vinegar

- serve piping hot, with a dollop of sour cream on top
- Enjoy!

Note: for a little extra oomph, you can serve the soup with pierogi-like mushroom dumplings (recipe coming soon)