A Quickie in the Afternoon

My kid loves borscht. Like, LOVES it. And I am happy that it does, but the fact is that my full-on, fairly authentic borscht is not a 30-minute meal by a long shot -- it takes a day to make the rich beef broth, cool and skim it, and then make the actual soup.

But she keeps asking for it, and I don't want to deny her, so today I had the most brilliant brainstorm ever. I have a huge jar of pickled beets in the fridge -- I used this recipe, but without sealing the jars (I just screwed on a lid and stuck it in the fridge). And I thought: hmm. I wonder if I could make borscht with pickled beets? And maybe instead of homemade beef broth I could use some of the chicken broth I made a couple of days ago?

It works like a charm -- since borscht needs a tang to counterbalance the sweetness of the vegetables, the pickled beets were perfect. The fact that they were spiced with peppercorns and allspice and bay leaves meant that I had to hardly do anything to the borscht to give it a warm flavor. The soup came together in about 15 minutes, and then simmered for a while to meld the flavors.

Pickled Beet Borscht
Serves 4

1 TB canola oil
1 onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled shredded on a box grater
1/2 celeriac (celery root), peeled and shredded on a box grater
1 small leek, white and light gree parts only, halved and cut into thin half-moons
1/4 small green cabbage, shredded
1 garlic clove, minced
kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
1 TB tomato paste
4 c chicken broth, beef broth, or water
1-1/2 cup pickled beets, chopped
3 TB minced dill
sour cream to serve

1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, celeriac, leek, and cabbage and sauté for a minute or so. Add garlic, a big pinch of kosher salt, and some liberal grindings of pepper, and continue to sauté until the vegetables lose their raw look. Add tomato paste to the pot and stir a few times.

2. Add broth, beets, and a teaspoon of kosher salt (or more, depending on how much salt is in the beets). Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and let bubble away for an hour or so, until the vegetables are extremely tender and the flavors have melded. Stir in dill, taste for seasoning, and serve with a dollop of sour cream.


Kat said…
Mmmmm...and celeriac! I have to try this!
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