Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Beet Borscht with Sour Cream & Chives

Adapted from Splendid Soups by James Peterson
Serves 6
2 medium onions, peeled, 1/4-inch diced
4 small to medium leeks, 1/4-inch diced
1 celery rib, 1/4-inch diced
1 medium turnip, peeled, 1/4-inch diced
4 medium beets, peeled, 1/4-inch diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
1/2 stick butter
5 cups beef broth (I like to use the College Inn Bold Stock, Tender Beef flavor.)
about 6 Tbl white wine vinegar, or to your own taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
sour cream or crème fraiche, for garnish
sliced chives, for garnish
First, slice and dice all your vegetables:  I know that leeks may still be a mystery to some of you, so I’ve included a few pictures that may help illustrate how to dice one up.  First, slice off the root end and the tough dark green parts.  Then slice the leek in half cross-wise, then slice each half in half again length-wise.  You’ll see a bunch of layers inside one another.  Separate out a few layers at a time.  Slice the layers into 1/4-inch strips, then slice the strips into 1/4-inch dice. 
1. A Leek 2. Roots & Dark Green Parts Removed 3. Sliced in Half Cross-Wise, And Then Length-Wise 4. Layers Separated into Managable Sets for Slicing 5. Slicing into Long Strips6. Slicing the Strips into Small Dices 7. Diced Leeks 8. Soaking in Water
The important thing to remember with leeks, is that they are very dirty.  Once you’ve diced the leeks, soak them in cool water for about 15 minutes, then drain.  The dirt sinks to the bottom of the bowl of water, so drain the leeks from the water by lifting them out with a slotted spoon, not by pouring it all into a colander, or else the dirt will get all over the leeks again.
And here’s a picture that kinda shows how to dice a turnip or beet.  First peel it, then slice it cross-wise into 1/4-inch circles, then slice the circles into 1/4-inch strips, then slice the strips into 1/4-inch cubes. 
Slicing a Turnip - First into Circles, Then into Stips, Then into Little Cubes
Now it’s time to make the soup: Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add the diced onions, leeks, celery, turnip, beets and garlic.  Season with a good sprinkling of salt and pepper, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 25 to 30 minutes. 
Add the beef broth and bring the pot to a simmer.  Adjust the heat to maintain a bare simmer.  Simmer for about 15 minutes, then taste the vegetables to make sure they are all tender.  Add the vinegar and dill, then taste again and season as needed with salt and pepper.
Pour into serving bowls, then garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chives or dill.