You might recall C, my SIL's mom, who does catering on top of her busy day job. She also created a homemade cookbook with some of her favourite recipes in it, as well as the fave recipes of some of her friends and family. Last weekend, I helped C cater the concession at the curling club, and one of the items on offer was C's homemade borscht.
I have previously posted about borscht here, and that post included some information about this hearty Russian soup as well as a recipe I've previously made with great success. C's version is also extremely awesome, and although there are beets in the soup, they are there more or less for colour and are discarded during the cooking process. I only like non-beety borscht because I am not a fan of that particular root veggie; however, C's borscht is the most brilliant pink colour I can barely describe it. I was too busy during that concession to take a picture of her borscht, so you'll have to trust me when I say that stuff was PINK, man!
Anyway, I had a bowl of C's borscht for lunch at the curling club one day and it inspired me to make some of my own so I could freeze it in portions for quick nuking when I don't feel like cooking. Yesterday, I got down to it and made the soup. The total cost for ingredients was $9.95; I got 11 portions, which makes each portion $0.90! You cannot beat that! That's even cheaper than my cabbage rolls!
Here is the recipe, which C generously allowed me to share here.
C's Borscht (I am taking some liberties with the method; these directions are not exactly how they appear in the original recipe)
2 large carrots
4 large potatoes
dash of salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup whipping cream (35%)
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 quart canned tomatoes (I used 1L diced)
1 head cabbage
2 tbsp dill, preferably fresh, or to taste (to be honest, I used WAY more than that!)
1. Peel the beets, potatoes, and carrots; chop and add to a large pot. Cover with water & add a dash of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until veggies are tender. (I personally wouldn't dice the beets again; I'd keep them in chunks; they are there more to impart colour and you don't want to spend a lot of time fishing them out when it comes time to discard them.)
2. When the veggies are tender, drain everything and discard the beets. Save the water! Mash the carrots and potatoes with 1/2 cup of butter and half the cream. Add back the water from the cooking vegetables. (Now, I deviated from this and it was a BIG MISTAKE. I just fished out the beets with a slotted spoon and mashed the carrots & potatoes in the pot with the water, but I couldn't get a nice smooth mash. No wonder. It wouldn't happen in the water; you have to do it out of the water. I ended up pureeing mine with an immersion blender. This was my first mistake on the path to getting a completely different borscht than the one C makes.)
3. In a large frying pan, saute the onion & pepper with 2 tbsp of the butter until the onion is clear and soft. Add tomatoes and dill & simmer.
4. Chop the cabbage very fine. Add it to the sauteed tomato mixture. Cook until cabbage is tender. (I had to deviate from the original recipe at this point, too, because I didn't have a pot big enough to accommodate the cabbage; I was using the big pot to boil the root veggies. So I wound up added cabbage to two pots and making two pots of borscht in the end, which I mixed together to make it all consistent.)
5. Gradually add the cabbage mixture to the potato mixture.
6. Very gradually add the rest of the butter and cream to the soup, stirring frequently (if added too quickly the acid in the tomato mixture will curdle the cream). Do not boil. Serve. (I just added the cream with the cabbage and didn't experience any curdling. I also boiled! No ill effects at all, but I had to in order to cook my cabbage since I was splitting it between two pots.)
My soup looked like this:
Yeah...very different from C's. But it tastes fantastic! Which is what counts, I guess. Next time I'll follow C's directions more closely and hopefully get that fantastically pink borscht she does!