Borscht is a healthy beet soup recipe with Ukrainian origins. This version is bright in taste & color. Vegetarian and gluten free, it’s great hot or cold.
This story is long overdue. It’s the final chapter from the amazing trip Holly and I had to eastern Washington wine country last fall. I already shared with you our time at Hedges Family Estate, the Prosser Hot Air Balloon Festival, and our Manger-style kitchen photoshoot.
The piece that is missing is our day trip to Walla Walla. I didn’t think I could tell the story, unless I had the soup to share with you. More on that later.
We had heard great things about Walla Walla, a small town just a couple of hours away from Red Mountain. In addition to being super peaceful and charming, it was also supposed to have great food, lots of antique stores and lots of wine tasting rooms. How could we not check it out?
We spent the morning poking our nose around a few antique spots. I managed to purchase eight vintage goblets. Super practical for stowing away in a carry-on suitcase. Of course, that was nothing compared to the one hundred-piece china set I brought home on our last trip together.
We chose Brasserie Four for lunch, charmed by its natural light and beautiful wood surfaces. It’s not often that you find french food this far off the beaten path, so we couldn’t resist.
Many people, including me in a former life (aka two years ago), turn their noses up at the earthiness of beets.
I remember learning in a science class long ago that this sensitivity to beets is actually a sensitivity to geosmin, a compound produced by microbes in the soil. It’s what you smell in a field after a rainstorm, or with freshly plowed earth. People who are overly sensitive to this smell tend to also not like beets.
I’m a big believer in mind over matter, and two years ago I decided that I would no longer miss out on the nutritional benefits and the culinary delights of the dear beet. I set out to eat them every chance I could, in hopes that it would reshape my palate. I wanted to trick myself into thinking that beets were a treat!
Luckily, it seems to have worked. It didn’t happen right away, but after three or four attempts, I started to taste the beet itself, and not the geosmin. Although I still taste that earthiness of beets when I eat them, it’s outweighed by the taste of the beets themselves. I actually enjoy them!
But back to Brasserie Four. We picked a huge assortment of foods from the menu, and every dish was better than the last, from the oeuf mayonnaise to the niçoise salad. The dish that really stood out though, was the borscht!
It’s like all of my tastebud reconstruction dreams were culminating in the enjoyment of this special dish. And enjoy it we did.
I’m so excited that Hannah, the chef and owner of Brasserie Four, has allowed me to share her special recipe for borscht here with you today.
I had the chance to make it again at home, and I assure you, even though winter is leaving us, this is the perfect soup for your New Year’s resolution! It’s light and healthy and packed with flavor. A batch of this is sure to start 2016 off on the right foot. Not a beet lover? Make it your new Year’s resolution to acquire the taste! I think my smile in these photos is proof that it’s worth the effort.
Walla Walla photos by Holly Mathews
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Borscht is a healthy beet soup recipe with Ukrainian origins. This version is bright in taste & color. Vegetarian and gluten free, it's great hot or cold.
3 hrPrep Time
1 hr, 30 Cook Time
4 hr, 30 Total Time
- 4 pounds purple beets (with tops) 45-60 minutes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 leeks, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 tsp whole caraway, toasted
- 2 cooking apples (fuji, pink lady, etc), peeled then cut into a medium dice
- Few sprigs of thyme
- 4 ribs celery, small dice
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 pound winter greens (kale, arugula, spinach, etc), roughly chopped into bite
- sized pieces
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- Creme fraiche, dill sprigs, chopped chives for garnish
- Cover the beets with water and cook (simmer) until very tender, 45-60 minutes. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve.
- Once cool enough to touch, peel the beets and cut into bite-sized pieces/cubes.
- While the beets are cooking, in a large pot, sweat the leeks and red onion in olive oil until tender, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the celery, garlic, thyme and bay leaves, sweat an additional 5 minutes.
- Add the reserved beet juice, and simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Add the beets, chopped greens, and apples and cook an additional 15 minutes.
- Add the cider vinegar to taste (you need more or less than the 1/2 cup). This acid will brighten the soup. Adjust quantity to your liking.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with creme fraiche, dill sprigs and chopped chives.
Recipe courtesy of Hannah MacDonald of Brasserie Four
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