Hot, red and delicious darlinki - from Russia with love, or black pudding and soured cream in this case
As I have said here before, there are other options rather than just to boil or pickle in malt vinegar.
In addition to Moroccan style pickles and Kosambir this is another Eastern European staple, beetroot soup - Borsch or Borscht.
It is a Russian staple, usually done with dumplings. Having been to Russia on several occasions let me assure you that they really know about hearty food to deal with cold weather.
Because all the veg and herbs used in this came from my own garden, I am tremendously proud of it.
In addition to the beets I added some red cabbage, another northern European staple that is said to be a cancer-preventing vegetable, as are other brassicas.
If you want just a pure beetroot soup, simply drop the cabbage and make up the weight with more beetroot, squash or because of the deep red colour, it might be cool as well for kids around Halloween, maybe replacing the with some pumpkin flesh, that needs to be used up - call it vampire soup or something equally ghoulish.
This soup is an excellent way to get more vegetable into your diet, and a way of using beets in a really rewarding way. Its also very easy to reheat or freeze when cooled.
I served with home made soda bread, but if you can find good rye bread, use that instead, the sour dough rye really sets off the sweetness of the beets.
For garnish I used a soured and Herby cream.
Using the black pudding is really optional, and it may be better being incorporated in dumplings or as a part of a garnish, but otherwise think of it as a stock cube - and it does add to the depth of this particular borscht and give it a bit of Irish zing.
Its up to you but I do tend to experiment a lot while cooking, and this one does work.
For herby soured cream its easy peezy lemon squeezy:
300 ml cream
juice of half a lemon
fresh chopped herbs
Bang them in a blender, whizz till clotted.
I just had some on hand from a turnip and lemon soup.
1.5 lts water
(What is ideal for this is reserved cooking water from bacon and cabbage, frankfurters or hotdogs)
600 grms Fresh beetroot, peeled and diced. Mine were Bolthardy
200 grms Fresh red cabbage - finely shredded. Mine was Rodeo, but can easily be replaced by other veg.
100 grms Carrot (1 large carrot) peeled and diced. More Lisse de Mieux
100 grms Onion (1 large onion) Peeled, chopped roughly. A good old Ailsa Craig type
100 grms fatty bacon and pork mix or ham bone
4 cloves Garlic peeled and crushed
1 tsp pepper
3 tsp sea salt
Knob of good butter
Tbls olive oil
The above is the basic, and you will get a very nice soup out of it. But to adjust it to my own taste, and to give it a bit of an Irish twist I altered it a little.
1 tsp caraway seeds (I just like this flavour with cabbage)
100 grm root parsley, Atika, that I grew in the garden. Very typical of eastern European cuisine, Czech in particular and it adds tremendous depth and flavour.
100 grm black pudding - this is a very Irish optional extra, and may be better used to float a small fried piece on top in presentation or work it into dumplings.
Bloody Hell!! Next time I chip beetroot they may end up in the chip pan!!METHOD
Get the veg washed, chopped and ready to go and prep meats.
Dry roast the caraway seed in the pan
Add butter and olive oil, get it to a good high temperature
Chuck in your pork/ham mix, carrots, cabbage, onion and garlic.
Sweat them off for 5 minutes. Render as much fat out of the pork as possible.
Season with salt and pepper, keep them sweating for a further 5 minutes.
Add 1 litre water and the bay leaf - don't forget, reserve 500ml of water.
Bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes
Then add chipped or cubed beetroot, and optional black pudding and Atika.
Bring back to the boil for 5 minutes
Add the remaining 500 ml of water, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf.
Using a strainer or slotted spoon transfer the solids to a blender - whizz until liquefied and return to liquid.
Let it sit on a low heat for 5-10 minutes and serve.
Garnish with herby soured cream, chives and parsley. To add to the dish, as I said dumplings based on black pudding would give it an Irish twist - or to be more traditional, try black rye bread croutons, that sour flavour really sets off how sweet the beetroot is naturally, but its bloody hard to find rye bread out here in the west.
Please take the time to comment, I really enjoy the feedback.