When Emma from Sophie + Millie asked me if I’d like to contribute a mid-week winter warmer recipe for her blog, my thoughts quickly turned to one of my favourite comfort foods of all time – my grandmother’s Borscht (beetroot soup). Lucky for me, nearly every ingredient is currently in season, so it’s the perfect time of year for this (heart)warming delicious dish.
The earliest memory I have of Borscht is sitting around my grandparent’s dining table in Geelong, with my grandfather at one end of the table bent over his bowl of soup, slurping it through his missing teeth. I remember how cranky he was a lot of the time – so my brother and I had to endure dinner in relative silence lest we upset him, with the only sounds being the alternate tick of the grandfather clock and the slurp of the soup. There must have been something in the water, as my grandmother had a habit of sticking her tongue behind her two front teeth and sucking the air through, making a sharp hissing noise.
Mouth-related noises aside, many things about visiting my grandparents are cemented in my mind as important events – eating fresh ripe apricots from the tree in the backyard until I felt sick, the white embroidered tablecloths on every table in the house, the heavy Russian artworks on the walls, the musky dense perfume of my grandmother’s hairspray, the hard pineapple candy covered in red + black wrappers, the fact that the separate toilet was always the coldest room in the house, the day my grandparents chased us through the house (we were naughty kids – I can’t remember what we did), how my grandmother used to give me a gi-normous block of Cadbury’s dairy milk chocolate the first day I arrived and it would be gone before dinner.
But probably one of the most important events was sitting down to my grandmother’s dinner spread (lunch was always basic – you’d be lucky to get a sandwich), where along with herring, potato cakes and cabbage rolls, you were guaranteed to be served a bowl of deep pink Borscht with a big dollop of sour cream and fresh dill on top, with rye bread and lashings of butter. Life was good.
My Grandmother’s ‘Borscht’
2 litres beef stock
2 med. potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and shredded (I use a grater)
2 lg beetroot, peeled and shredded (again, I use a grater)
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
4-5 bay leaves
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
¼ small cabbage, shredded
6 ripe tomatoes, core removed, diced
1 x 400g tin baked beans in tomato sauce
1 tsp sugar
3-4 T white vinegar
In a large soup pot, add the stock, potatoes, onion, carrots, beetroot, celery, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper, bring to the boil then reduce to simmer for 30-40 mins, stirring occasionally and checking to see it doesn’t overboil.
Add the cabbage and tomatoes and simmer for a further 10 mins, stirring once or twice.
Remove from the heat and add the whole tin of baked beans, then stir through. Add the sugar, then add the vinegar to taste. I add 3T straight away, then add further to taste.
Ladle into bowls with a generous spoonful of sour cream and plenty of fresh dill, and serve with rye bread and butter for the ultimate in comfort food.
About Any Given Sunday Journal by Vicki
A passion for food and cooking in her downtime led Vicki to create Any Given Sunday Journal as a way to document her cooking and culinary adventures. Vicki believes that any day can be like a Sunday if you just tap into what makes you happy. So any day of the week can see Vicki recipe testing, learning about food processes and techniques, playing around with food styling, or creating sweet treats for happy customers. Vicki's chocolate peanut butter cups have captured many an imagination, and she sells these and other delectable treats by the dozen to hair salons and individual customers for anything from baby showers to family reunions or just because.
Vicki's food philosphy is based on seasonal produce, sustainable sourcing and knowing what's in your food. Her natural flair for styling has seen her cook and prepare food to a brief for television commercials.