Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Borscht - Beet and Cabbage Soup

Call me a lazy cheapskate, go ahead. I've peeled and cooked messy beats and stained my shirt and hands in the process, but I like the convenience and cost of a can of beets. For about a buck you get almost a dozen small whole beets -- now that's a great deal. And the beet liquid is perfect for a Eastern European winter soup called Borscht. (But I do have a farmers market Beet Roasting Recipe, just click here, or type "beets" into search window located on the upper right side of this blog to see more recipes.)


I made my Borscht vegetarian friendly by leaving out the meat and adding cabbage (although I used chicken flavored granules, but you can use vegetable stock or plain water.) And I added a kitchen sink full of aromatics like celery, carrots, onions, garlic, bay leaf and fresh herbs. Of course you can make this recipe your own and add or subtract from my ingredient list.


Looking up a few Borscht recipes online, I learned that cubes of beef or sausage is often used. You can do it that way, but you do need to cook the beef until it's tender, about 2 hours - while my vegetarian version only takes an hour.

And make sure to serve The 99 Cent Chef's steaming bowl of Borscht with a few dollops of cheap sour cream on top!


Ingredients
  • One 15 ounce can of beets - including liquid. Sliced or whole beets. Okay to use a 2-3 fresh beets. Just peel and boil until almost tender, about 30 minutes. Reserve liquid for recipe.
  • 1/2 cabbage - roughly chopped.
  • 1 medium onion - chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic - fresh or from jar.
  • Extra chopped veggies - including: a rib of celery, a couple of potatoes, and 1 cup of chopped carrots.
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar - optional
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups water and/or favorite vegetable broth - Okay to use a beef or chicken stock (or one bouillon cube.)
  • Fresh herbs or favorite dried herb blend - optional.
  • 1 tablespoon oil for sauteing veggies.
  • Pepper to taste - I left out salt because the chicken granules I used have plenty.

Directions
In a large stock pot, over medium heat, add tablespoon of oil. Add all chopped veggies except cabbage and beets. Saute and stir about 5-8 minutes until soft.


Add the chopped cabbage and beets with their juice after veggies are cooked. If the beets are whole you may want to cut them in half, close to bite sized.


Add broth, vinegar, and/or water. Sprinkle on herbs and the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. You may not need salt, as canned beets and broth are salty enough for me.


Bring Borscht to a boil, then reduce heat to low simmer. I cook with the lid off so a cup or two of liquid will cook out, thus making an intense broth. Low simmer for about an hour.

If you are in a hurry, add less broth or water (about 6 cups total) and cook until cabbage is tender, about 20 minutes.


Serve Borscht hot with a couple dollops of sour cream.

Hindsight
Since this a an old recipe, there are many variations. Some recipes called for adding potatoes instead of cabbage. Of course you can add both for more heft.


There are also meaty versions of Borscht. Most recipes call for sliced or cubed beef steak. You will need to cook longer (covered) to tenderize meat, for about 2 hours. If you have a favorite sausage then you can use it, and cook it until done or heated through. Almost any meat including chicken and pork can be added.

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