A nod to my Russian ancestors...
There's nothing quite like Borscht soup in the winter. (It's also lovely chilled in the summer.) So with a fresh lot of produce from the Farmer's Market on the weekend, I decided to make a batch.
All through my childhood, this was a dish that we had regularly. My Russian grandparents picked us up from school once a week. At that time, baboushka didn't have a driving licence. My grandfather always wore a hat, usually a peaked Kangol. As we approached the car, he would always get out and open the door for us. We were the only kids in the school with a Russian name, and that made us slightly unusual. Then as other kids noticed our grandfather opening the door, there was some talk that we were picked up by a chauffeur. That made us very unusual.
Back at the house, baboushka would be quickly back in the kitchen, preparing and serving. Dinner was always early, and soup, mostly Borscht, was served first. The beetroot should be added last and not cooked for too long. This results in a gorgeous pinkish red soup, rather than a brownish / red soup. Other vegetables may be added to suit - leeks, turnip, parsnip.
2 large fresh beetroot, parboiled and cooled
1 onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1/4 cabbage, shredded
large can of diced tomatoes
homemade chicken stock
Peel and chop beetroot. Fry onion in oil and butter until soft. Add all vegetables, except beetroot and fry until softened. Season.
Add tomatoes and mix. Pour in stock until desired thickness is reached and bring to a gentle simmer. Add beetroot last and simmer gently until tender.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream, fresh dill and rye bread.
*At one stage of the cooking, baboushka often added a few drops of soya sauce. She always told me not to tell anyone that she was adding a "Chinese ingredient" ! She said it improved the flavour. (I don't add soya sauce.)