Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Borscht, Borsch or Borshch?

Borscht, Borsch or Borshch? | All Things Good
Mystery seems to roll across the vast Russian landscape like a Siberian blanket of snow, spreading a dusting of enigma on nearly every aspect of life – including food. Or so is the case with Borshch, one of the great soups of the world that serves up its own culinary mystery in its seemingly endless varieties and different spellings.

Borscht. Borsch. Bortsch. Borstch. Borshtch. Borsh. Borshch.

But, what exactly is Borsch?

While “cultured” Americans are likely to spell it with a ‘t’ (Borscht) and describe it as “a beet soup served chilled”, with a little detective work we learned that during the long Russian winters, Borshch is served piping hot and is spelled without the ‘t’ (Borshch).

According to Darra Goldstein in her book, A Taste of Russia, there are well over a hundred varieties of the soup with as many as twenty different ingredients – the common ingredient, nevertheless, being beets.

“As a general rule,” she writes, “the farther west one goes, the more beets are added to the soup.”

Here at ATG, “around our culinary table”, our favorite version of Borshch is a Muscovite-style, which is tomato based with a little bit of beef.

There are many variations of borscht!
...for example: Dr. Zhivago Borscht Recipe on Food52:

10 cups water
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaves
3 medium sized beets
2 medium sized carrots
1 large potato (1 yukon or 2 small red)
1 celery stalk, cut into thin moons
1/4 bunch fresh dill, minced
1/2-1 whole lemon, juice of
2-3 teaspoons salt
dash freshly ground pepper
12 whole juniper berries (optional)
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon sour cream (per bowl) Set your pot of water on low heat.

Set your pot of water on low heat.
Add in 1 tbsp of oil, chopped onion, bay leaf and juniper berries.
Peel the beets and cut them into halves if they’re small enough or into thirds or quarters if they’re very large.
You want them to be of relatively equal size.
Drop them gently into the water as you continue working on the rest of the vegetables.
Peel and cut the carrots into rounds, and for the potatoes, cut them into cubes or small chunks. (I prefer my vegetables small as I find they distribute a lot better into individual bowls.)
Add them to the pot as they're ready.
Then add the chopped celery and the juice of 1/2 of a fresh lemon.
Bring your heat up and cook the soup until a fork easily pierces through one of the larger beet pieces; this should take about 15 minutes on medium low heat.
While the beets are getting tender, you should skim the soup from some of the foam that will form.
By doing this, you will inevitably be taking out some of the oil along with it.
Once you’ve skimmed it, put in an additional 1/2 tablespoon of oil.
Once your beets are done, scoop them out of the soup (bringing back into the pot any vegetables that might have clung to the beet) and let the beets cool for 2 minutes so you can handle them more easily.
At this point, you can turn the pot to low heat.
I’d advise wearing gloves for the next part so you don’t have to take beet stains off your hands.
Using the large holes on your grater, shred your beets.
Once you’ve grated all the chunks, carefully put all the shredded beets back into the soup pot and let this cook for an additional 10 minutes.
The soup should have a sweet tart taste.
After the 10 minutes, add in the dill and taste the soup to adjust flavors accordingly.
Add salt, a tad of pepper, and if the soup is still too sweet for you, another tablespoon or 2 of fresh lemon juice.
Remember that if your soup is very hot, you will not taste the actual level of salt, so err on the side of less, as each time you reheat the soup, it will get slightly saltier.
This soup is the perfect example of melded flavors getting better in the following days.
Notes: Serve hot or cold, with sour cream or not, but eat this with black bread.
If you want to make the soup a bit spicier, add thin slices of garlic to the soup before serving.
If you want just a hint of garlic, then rub a cut clove over the crust of your bread.
In the Winter, if you want to experience an even more authentic Russian meal, serve this soup with a side of mashed potatoes topped with sardines.
Let the juices of the sardines drip into the butter- or milk-mashed potatoes.
If you cook this in the Summertime, omit cooking with juniper berries and use a topping of cubed persian cucumbers or a hard boiled egg split in half.
Food52 Review: We've never tasted borscht this pure and clean.
The broth is supremely light, a clear essence of beet spiked with a healthy dose of lemon juice and perfumed with a large handful of dill.
The carrots, potatoes and celery bob amongst the ruby shards of beet, so that each mouthful is substantial yet straightforward.
We salted the soup towards the beginning so that the veggies would absorb some salinity, and we added plenty of lemon juice at the end.
Don't skip a generous dollop of sour cream; when swirled gently into the soup, it lends just the right amount of richness.
And more: http://food52.com/recipes/search?q=Borscht

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