I have had the worst cold this week. I have sounded like Michael Caine and wherever I have gone a Hansel and Gretel trail of tissues has followed. I've lost count of how many lemon and whiskey drinks I've shot back.
Nourishing soup was the answer, but I am just not into the whole puréed soup thing.
You see, I have a good old set of God given gnashers, and I like to use 'em. Why purée all the interesting bits of a nice soup to smithereens? This beetroot soup is a cracker, and not a blender in sight. It's a fun colour, is like soooooo good for you and it turns a somewhat intimidating bunch of beetroots into something spring-y, clear and alive. Beetroot can be a little too sweet sometimes, but in this soup it's balanced by the other vegetables. Also you get to feel like a Russian peasant when you ladle it out.
My Grandad used to pride himself on making his borscht by boiling up a cows foot, for depth of flavour, so this is my homage to him, only using slightly more accessible beef stock. There are some dishes that I believe shouldn't be tampered with when it comes to tradition. This is one of them. Serve as the Russians do and add a dollop of sour cream and a smattering of dill, oh and a shot of vodka (for authenticity's sake, oh course *cough*).
Borscht (makes enough for 4)
- 3 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- a knob of butter
- a splash of olive oil
- 5 raw beetroot, peeled and diced (wear marigolds!)
- 1 tbsp dried mixed herbs
- 100ml masala wine or sherry
- 1 litre of good beef stock or consommé (you can buy this in supermarkets easily)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 lemon, juiced
- sour cream
- fresh dill
- Sweat the onion, celery and carrot in melted butter and oil, with a big pinch of salt until translucent (about 15 mins).
- Add the beetroot and mixed herbs and sweat for a further 15 mins.
- Add the masala wine (or sherry), beef stock and about a litre of water and season with salt and pepper. Throw in the bay and simmer for about half an hour to 45 mins.
- Strain the veg through a sieve, and pick out the beetroot. Discard the other other veg, but keep the beetroot and add it back to the soup. Add the lemon juice, this keeps the colour bright and counterbalances the sweetness.
- Remove any excess oil from the surface of the liquid with a spoon and a little patience if you want a really clear soup.
- Stir in a couple of shots of vodka before serving with the sour cream and dill.