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. . . and the Beet goes on!

Beetroot for BorschtThis is a wonderful soup that originally hails from the peasant kitchens of Russia, and is based on what I think is an often maligned vegetable, the beetroot or beet as it is known in the USA.

I don't know why, as this deep red beauty is such a versatile vegetable which can be used for so much. It can be cooked and served as a vegetable or in salads, grated raw for salads or bound with a little flour and egg to make a rosti style dish, sliced thinly and deep fried like potato chips or, like we are this week, into a wonderful soup. Don't throw the leaves away either; as any good southern American will tell you they make a great alternative to cabbage, spinach, etc. Oh and look out for the yellow varieties now becoming available . . . which strangely enough was the original colour of this glorious vegetable. On the same lines, did you know that carrots were originally white or purple? The orange ones we know today were cultivated by the Dutch . . . as its their national colour!

The beetroot has been cultivated for centuries and used not only as food for humans but as stock feed also. In the case of some varieties, for distillery purposes. But its properties do not end there . . . it was / is also grown as a medicinal and curative plant, believed centuries ago to be an antidote against yellow jaundice and many other illnesses. The cultivated red beet we know now originated in Germany and was then introduced to Italy around the fifteenth century.

Usually when you buy fresh beetroot it will still have the leaves and stalks attached. To cook the beetroot simply trim off the stalks, leaving a couple of centimetres attached; by doing this it will help to stop the beetroot from 'bleeding', losing it's colour when you cook it and it also helps to retain all the nutrients, vitamins, etc.

A final word of caution: beetroots contain 10% carbohydrate, mainly in the form of sucrose, so beetroot is not recommended for diabetics. Other than that, give it a whirl, you will not be disappointed and neither will your family or dinner guests.

Ever fancied a cooking holiday? Ever fancied learning
to make bread -

Ingredients for Borscht

white chicken stock
white cabbage
red wine vinegar
bouquet garni (with fennel seeds)
sour cream
dill - fresh sprigs

How to make Borscht

  • Wash and scrub the beetroots extremely well to remove any trace of dirt

  • Place in a saucepan with the stock and gently simmer until the beetroots are tender

  • Remove and allow too cool, once cool, peel and cut flesh into fine strips (julienne) or dice - set aside

  • Strain the stock well and set aside

  • Finely shred the cabbage and finely dice the other vegetables, sweat (cook with no colour) in a little butter until softened slightly

  • Add the vinegar and reduce until almost dry

  • Add the strained stock and bouquet garni and simmer until the vegetables are cooked (approximately 10 minutes)

  • Add the beetroot and simmer for 5 minutes

  • Spoon into serving bowls, add a teaspoon of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped dill

Chef's Tip for Borscht:

If you have any cold roast beef left over in the fridge, finely dice it and add to the soup

Summer where you are? All the better, chill the cooked soup down and serve it in chilled cappuccino cups . . . so refreshing as an appetiser with a difference

Fresh beets not available? No problems - replace with tinned ones instead (add the juice to the stock though, don't waste it)

Enjoy your Borscht and bon appetit . . . . .

Chef's terminology:

litres   tsp = teaspoon
millelitres   tbs = tablespoon
kilograms   sq = sufficient quantity (add to taste)
grams   pc = piece, meaning a whole one of

Recipe from professional
Chef Tallyrand

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