My husband was sick recently. The poor guy doesn’t get sick often, but when he does it certainly seems to kick his feet out from under him. And he got the head cold at the beginning of the final week of school, when he had a test almost every day. Fun times!
Illness always call for soup in my opinion. Hot broth warming and filling the tummy does wonders for a shiver that just won’t seem to subside, not to mention relieving a sore throat on the way down.
What did I find?
Tavis had brought out a recipe for borsch a few days prior, but hadn’t gotten around to making it, so I decided now was the time. He says he got this recipe from his Mom, but he doesn’t know where she got it from so we’ll call the recipe “Mom’s Borsch” for now. It looked relatively simple and because he had meant to prepare it a few days prior, we already had the veggies on hand.
While I would normally have dug into the pile of frozen beets from our garden, we had the random fortune of receiving some beets from a friend who popped by the week before and took at face value my husband’s texted request to bring “beets.” Tavis meant “beers.” We have a good laugh at that!
What did I change?
Having the recipe already on hand meant I didn’t get to scour the web looking for a recipe I liked, so naturally I scoured the web anyways and noted a couple of ideas I thought might be interesting. First was the roasting of the beets. Many recipes I found online said roasting the beets made it that much better, and since I tend to agree that roasted veggies are “the bomb” I decided to roast not only the beets but the potatoes, carrots, and onions as well. I don’t think it ultimately added anything to the dish though, as I couldn’t taste that they were roasted once the veggies were in the broth. Still, they looked awesome!
The other change with the veggies was to make the soup chunky, where it actually calls for most of the veggies to be grated or chopped finely. This was pure laziness on my part – I really hate grating vegetables, both by hand and digging out and then having to wash the darn food processor. So I chopped them small and that was that. A lot of recipes I read online actually puree the borsch, so I think I might have to try that sometime. I prefer pureed soups in general anyways.
Another thing I changed was to lessen the total liquid. The recipe called for 10 cups of water and 6 cups of broth which seemed excessive to me. I lessened the water and only used 12 cups of liquid total. Seemed to be enough though.
I had to make a couple substitutions purely because we don’t normally have certain items. The recipe calls for ketchup, and we don’t normally have this condiment because it’s a bit boring. We buy chili sauce instead. Honestly I was dubious about this addition anyways, but I used the chili sauce instead. Ultimately I’m not sure what it did for the soup, so I think I’d just leave it out next time. Also, the recipe calls for fresh dill but I avoid buying fresh herbs so I used dry. The final result definitely could have used a lot more dill in my opinion, so either fresh dill will be the only way to go, or I’ll really have to up the quantity of the dried stuff next time.
And finally, I made a little addition to the soup at the end. Many of the recipes I’d read online called for some sort of vinegar, usually red wine vinegar and sometimes apple cider vinegar. I tasted the broth near the end and decided that it could use a vinegar tweak, so I added 2 T of white balsamic vinegar. It was a delicious addition!
What did I learn?
Like a lot of dishes I’ve heard of and maybe even eaten but never actually attempted, I assumed that making borsch would be incredibly complicated. I mostly made this assumption based on it being a culturally significant dish, and this translates in my mind to an image of little Ukrainian or babas poring over giant vats of liquid for entire days at a time. And honestly some of the recipes I came across via Almighty Google certainly seemed complicated. But this recipe was easy! In fact I actually made it harder for myself when I chose to roast the veggies first… otherwise all the veggies just get added to the pot and boiled. Soup doesn’t get much easier to prepare than that.
Speaking of roasting the veggies, I became concerned about the colour of the soup as I watched my broth come to a boil sans beets, and thought of the original recipe calling for boiling them. I wondered whether I would be able to get the classic red colour without that step. I needn’t have worried though, as I was quickly reminded how beets turn everything red when I added the veggies to the pot. And after the soup had boiled for an extra 20 minutes or so, the liquid had turned a lovely bright red. I noticed the next day for lunch that the soup had turned an even richer red as it sat in the fridge. Such is the magical power of beets!
So soup was had and Tavis was miraculously cured… at least that’s what I hoped would happen. Actually he could barely eat it because he felt so icky, and he turned in shortly after. Plus, since I didn’t have a man appetite helping me eat the food, we had a ton of leftovers. Borsch for days! Luckily it was delicious, so I’m okay with that.
Incidentally, does anyone know the correct spelling for borsch/borscht? Inquiring grammarian minds need to know!