Borscht: Russian Beetroot Soup

Soup graces our dinner table at least twice a week. I find it to be one of the easiest, tastiest ways to pack nutrients into one healthy dish.  To open my email and find a Russian Borscht recipe from a dear friend warmed my day. (I believe this is the real deal as she’s from Russia) Reading this recipe in her own words felt like we were side-by-side in her kitchen, over tea, chatting about good food and simple recipes to feed our children.

I wish I still lived near my friend to borrow the potato that's missing. My beetroot was yellow making a light broth.

Put the beef (cubes or on the bone) in a pot and cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook until tender .

 Once the beef is tender, add shredded cabbage and small potato cubes

In the frying pan, fry onions and carrot, add beetroot grated on a big grater. Once cooked, add can of chopped tomatoes (or peeled fresh tomatoes) and cook for further 5 min.  

When the cabbage and potato are cooked, add the fried onions, carrots and beetroot into the pan & cook for 5 more minutes on low heat. Then cover & let rest for 5 min.  

Serve with a teaspoon of creme freche and fresh chopped dill.

P.S I don’t always use beetroot. The result is just as nice, but the color is a bit different. You can make a vegetarian option without any meat.

With cabbage and beetroots still plenty in the markets, Borscht will be our soup of the week until spring fully blooms.

This recipe is tasty and cozy, one that makes you feel at home. I hope mine gets a Russian wink of approval!

Lentils: As Winter Ends and Lent begins

The big round table central to papa’s parents’ flat in Rome changes like the seasons. Lentils appear in clay bowls with fall, and their hearty soup warms the pancia (tummy) all through winter’s cold nights. We are now cooking up our pantry’s last lentils until next fall.

The little pulses make a humble lent fare too.

I find the earthy, grainy flavor of lentils tough to balance. My mission tonight was savory lentils. This is how I proceeded:

2 fat garlic cloves smashed under a knife and sauteed in olive oil

225 g small green French lentils mixed into the oil until heated; stir to avoid stick or burn

1/2 of a large fresh tomato or scoop of canned or splash of passata mixed in until hot

add a splash of white cooking wine and cook until wine smell disappears

add 1 liter of water, a large rosemary sprig and a few cracks of black pepper

bring to a boil then gently simmer until lentils are just tender

salt generously just before lentils are cooked

let stand until warm before serving to let flavors settle

serve over polenta (recommend polenta meal to the instant one. sautee garlic in olive oil then cook according to package adding a rosemary sprig)

 grate Pecorino Romano cheese over the top.

I’m not sure this dish is chef approved, but ev especially enjoyed tonight’s winter dinner farewell!