It’s my birthday today so I’m treating myself to a day off and a giant pot of Borscht, Doukhobor style from my hometown. The flavor of this soup is like no other, it is not your average borscht. It’s amazing to me how our senses can conjure up past memories so precisely, and this soup does just that. The ‘comfort’ aspect of comfort food is not just a likeable flavor being reintroduced to your tastebuds, it is the layers of memory attached to that consistency of flavor. That exact combination of textures and flavors is attached to a memory or feeling, and that is brought to your attention whenever you taste this exact combination. It’s like that song on the radio you couldn’t get enough of as a kid, the one you waited three hours for with your finger on the REC button of your tape player.
Admit it – you know you did that.
It’s like the first day of actual warm sun after a long winter, the slight skip of your heartbeat when you book a flight somewhere exciting or realize it’s the first day of vacation. Those moments where you experience something you’ve experienced before, but not often enough for it to lose it’s ability to jolt you with a little kick of happy.
Food does that. Not for everyone of course, but for me – and probably for you.
What’s your happy food?
From the USCC website, Castlegar BC
About Doukhobor Borscht …
Borscht is a vegetable soup of Eastern European origin. It is traditionally cooked with beet and cabbage, as well as other minor vegetable ingredients, although certain cultures also include meat. Doukhobor borshch is unique in the sense that it is strictly vegetarian, with an emphasis on cabbage and tomatoes. Unlike its beet red cousins, it is pale orange in colour, acquiring its colouration from the use of dairy cream. It is a thick hardy soup and can be a meal in itself, when accompanied with home-baked bread and cheddar cheese. It must be eaten hot, and even then, can be seasoned with black or red pepper.
Beet Borscht Doukhobor Style
*Note: this is the lazy method, I found it tastes the same made less dirty dishes!
2 large potatoes, I used russet, diced
1 large beet, grated/shredded
2 large carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced/minced
3 large handfuls of fresh dill
1/2 small head of red cabbage, sliced thin/shredded
3 or 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 to 1+1/2 cups of heavy cream (*note: varies, just add until the color matches the below photos)
500 ml diced or stewed tomatoes, canned
1/2 cup butter
few pinches salt and black pepper
-For the original recipe you should saute off the onions and cabbage together with the butter and some salt and pepper, but I was too lazy and didn’t want to create more dirty dishes for myself, so I skipped this. If you want you can do this while you start step 1 below:
-Peel and dice your potatoes and place them in a large stock pot. Cover with lots of water (cold) until they are covered with at least an inch and half of water above them. You will be keeping the water as your soup base, so keep this in mind. You want to always cook your potatoes starting them in cold water rather than hot, because this allows each piece to cook to doneness at the same time as one another even if they are not perfectly even cut sizes.
-Bring the water to a boil and simmer until they are soft enough to be mashed. At this stage you can either remove the potato pieces onto a cutting board to cool and then mash them, or you can do what I did and just take a portable hand blender stick straight to the pot and blend the water and potatoes together until mostly blended. A few little pieces left unblended is no biggie.
-At this stage add to the pot your sauteed cabbage and onions (or raw if you’re lazy like me) along with all of the other ingredients, being sure to keep some fresh dill reserved for finishing later.
-Stir everything together and allow to cook until all of the vegetables are to doneness of your liking, or just a really nice long time over your stove’s lowest heat setting (preferred). When the soup is about done it will look like a nice weird pink, blobby mess. This is a good thing.
-Taste the liquid and add more dill, salt, or pepper to your liking. For best results you want to leave the soup out at room temperature for 24 hours or just overnight so it can do a little mini-ferment I like to call it.
-Be sure to reheat it nice and hot after it’s been out overnight.
-Serve with a nice spoonful of sour cream or greek yogurt and another sprinkling of fresh dill. The more dill you put in there the better. Remember it’s really just vegetables with salt, pepper, and garlic. There’s no other spices or herbs besides the dill. Load it up.
So tell us guys – what’s your happy food?!