Wednesday Night Soup: Borscht

Borscht is a great word to say aloud, isn’t it?

It’s a beet-based soup that originated in eastern Europe. It’s a bit dangerous to upholstery–Daisy says of another soup, “I blessed the Scotchgard we had thought to have the sofas sprayed with, for exactly this kind of occasion”–but it’s rich and satisfying on cold, blustery days like today. It’s also seasonal: we get a weekly food box from farmers, and by late October, the beets and kale are still abundant, long after the more tender vegetables have succumbed.

People have asked me about the soups as chapter titles. The book begins in late August and ends at Christmas, and I wanted to signal to the reader where we were in the year, according to the produce with which Daisy makes her soup. Sure we can buy asparagus in October sometimes and oranges in April, but not when we buy locally, from a farmer’s market or in a food box. Eating seasonally often means we get the nutrients our bodies naturally crave, and that we are in tune with the natural world. In a book that addresses the dangers of messing with that natural world, I wanted to emphasize the rhythm of the growing season.

And here’s Daisy’s recipe for Borscht. (Say it out loud.)

Pretty much all the work of borscht is prep work. There’s chopping and dicing and then throwing it together in a pot and letting it simmer. Dice 1 large onion. Mince 4 cloves of garlic. Peel and grate 2 carrots and 4 small beets. Peel and dice 2 potatoes. Thinly slice 2 cups cabbage. Add to 4 cups vegetable stock and 1 bay leaf in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Add ½ tsp dill, ½ tsp salt, black pepper, 1 tomato, chopped, 3 Tbsp lemon juice. Cook just a few minutes more. Remove bay leaf before serving.

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