January in these parts tends to bring its fair share of snow days. And with the temperatures in the basement, we’ve been craving all sorts of hot food to keep our insides warm and toasty. There’s really nothing better than coming in from shoveling the driveway and enjoying a nice hot meal! But as cold as it is here, I really can’t complain. It’s waaaay colder in other places- especially, say……. Russia?
Natasha over at 5 Star Foodie has been inspiring me lately with all of her Russian dishes (incredible Beef Stroganoff and Herring under the Blanket, and it’s really been making me miss my friends on the other side of the world. Several years ago, my husband and I had the very good fortune to spend a week in the Russian Far East. The friendships we made there are the kind that last a lifetime- even over such a great distance! (Thank God for email and cheap international phone cards!!) I also have to say that the food was an incredible experience. Someday I’ll have to recreate the mushroom dish our friend made- with a bucket of wild mushrooms purchased on the side of the road for about 2 dollars. The mushrooms were delicious, and like none I’ve ever seen- or likely will until I return to Russia someday- their name literally translated is “Mushroom that grows under birch trees”- go figure.
But on this particular snow-day, I decided to recreate something a little more accessible than “mushrooms that grow under birch trees”. The year following our big adventure in Russia, our dear friend Olga paid us a visit. One night we hosted a Russian dinner for several friends, and she made the best borscht I’ve ever tasted. Borscht tends to get a bad rap in many circles. Many people are likely to turn up their noses when they hear ‘borscht’. They think of watery, weakly seasoned cabbage soup. However, borscht is anything but that! Properly created, borscht is a richly flavored, deeply colored, vibrant and delicious (like you can’t stop eating it delicious) soup. And it’s even better on the second day!
This soup isn’t exactly traditional- I did add a few extra ingredients, but it’s definitely borscht-ish, and a mostly faithful recreation of the delicious borscht that Olga made. I added a little red wine, some dehydrated tomatoes, and some dried chanterelles to my soup. I can’t bring myself to buy fresh tomatoes out of season- they’re just awful. So in the winter months I tend to reach for dehydrated, sundried, or stewed/strained tomatoes- the kind in the glass jar- they taste more like summer to me. This particular recipe makes a lot of soup- you can freeze half and still have enough for dinner and a few leftover lunches. Regardless of what the weather brings you in your area, may this soup help connect you to those you love! Enjoy!
Makes 5 quarts
3 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 small potatoes, diced
1 large carrots, shredded
1/2 head cabbage, cut into thin ribbons
2 beets, shredded
16 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup red wine
2 tbs salt
freshly ground pepper (about 10 twists from the pepper mill)
1/2 cup dried chanterelles
1/3 cup dehydrated tomatoes
1 tsp celery salt
Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, and garlic. When the onion starts to turn translucent, add the potatoes. Stir briefly, adding a little water if the potatoes begin to stick. Add the carrots and continue to stir. Add the red wine, cabbage and beets, followed by the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, and turn the heat to low. Allow soup to simmer for 30-40 minutes. 10 minutes prior to serving, rinse the chanterelles to remove the grit and add to the pot, along with the tomatoes. Season by adding salt, pepper and celery salt. Allow flavors to mingle for a few more minutes and serve. If you choose, you may garnish with sour cream or plain yogurt.