Sunday, January 19, 2014

Phew, I'm Borscht!

In just a couple of weeks it will be February.  Normally this is not the most exciting revelation unless it's time for the Winter Olympics!  In three short weeks I will unleash my inner Olympics nerd and be all about the variety of winter sports that I only think about every four years.  I will watch skiers with utter amazement, I will watch snowboarders in awe, I will even watch curling with a titch of envy.  I'm serious about that, I always thought it would be fun.  Maybe it was my limited participation in broom ball at SUNY Potsdam that ignited my appreciation for random ice games that don't involve skates.  Who knows.  In addition to watching all sports as the time zones allow, I will also be making a festive dinner to celebrate the opening of the Olympic games.  My family knows first hand how I like to really "get into it".  Twice during the Summer Olympics, we were at my brother in law's cottage for one of the weeks.  We had a huge homemade Chinese dinner for Beijing and Fish and Chips to celebrate London.  This winter the games will be hosted by Sochi and my Russian repertoire is very limited.  But this gives us the perfect excuse to try something new.  It's also the perfect reason to share a borscht recipe that we've become very fond of (unless your Phoebe, then its just OK).  Weather you choose to join in the Olympic excitement or just need a nice warm soup on a cold winter's night, I recommend that you give this easy (and quick) Chunky Borscht a try.
First you want to get your veggies chopped up.  The first time we made this it was simply an attempt to use up a few lingering veggies left from our CSA.  (The second and third times were just because it's so good!) So start with an onion and a couple of parsnips.
Next, celery root.  I really like it but it can be a challenge to cut up.  This recipe calls for a small one so it wasn't so bad.  They really are weird looking aren't they?
If you add eyes, it looks like some sort of sea creature!
You will also need a turnip peeled and chopped up.  There's just a whole lot of earthy goodness in this soup.
You might want to grab a bowl or a bag to keep your mess contained.  This makes the clean up process much easier.  (By the way I fished those celery leaves out of the bowl, washed them up and saved them for another meal.  I think I like the leaves better than the celery itself.)
Of course you will need some beets.  The recipe calls for canned beets but if you have fresh beets you will want to cook them first.  We happened to have a few that had been roasted in the fridge so I chopped those up too.
You start the cooking with the onion, giving that a bit of a head start over the the other veggies.  Then add celery root, turnip and parsnips with a little salt, cover and cook until they start to soften (5 Min).
Meanwhile, chop up a nice pile of fresh dill and whatever your favorite version of kielbasa is.  There are a few turkey varieties or I like this Applegate Farms brand since they have no added nitrites or nitrates.  I think any kind of smoked sausage would work fine or whatever healthier option you prefer.  We almost never eat this type of meat so I went with a low-sodium smoked turkey sausage.  I am, however, holding on to an Andrew Zimmerman Borscht recipe but it takes 4 hours. BUT it has short ribs instead of polish sausage so I'd say it's worth the time.  I'll probably try that one for my Russian Olympic dinner.
Next you add the beets, canned diced tomatoes, beef broth and water.  Let simmer for about 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Then you just stir in the dill and it's done! I really never would have imagined I would love borscht so much!
Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of dill.  Click here for the full recipe and instructions.


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