vegetarian borscht

[written 09/19/04]

ingredients:

  • » 1 ounce (30 g) dried porcini mushrooms (cépes)
  • » 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • » 1/2 pound (225 g) white mushrooms, trimmed, wiped clean, and sliced 1/4” thick
  • » 1 large onion, cut into 3/4” dice
  • » 10 small or 8 medium beets (about 1 1/2 lbs.; 675 g), with greens, peeled, quartered, and cut across into 1/4” slices
  • » 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut across into 1/4” rounds
  • » 1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut across into 1/4” rounds
  • » 1 very small or 1/2 large celery root (about 3/4 pound; 360 g), peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes
  • » 1 1/2 pounds (675 g) mashing potates, peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes
  • » 1/2 small white cabbage (about 3/4 pound; 360 g), cored and shredded
  • » 3 large cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and very finely chopped
  • » 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • » 1 medium bush dill, fronds only, coarsely chopped
  • » 1/2 cup (125 ml) cider vinegar
  • » 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
  • » 2 tablesppons kosher salt
  • » freshly ground black pepper, to taste

directions:

  • » soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup (250 ml) hot water for 15 minutes. drain, reserving the liquid, and squeeze out the excess liquid. strain all the soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve (or just use your hand, like me). reserve the liquid (there should be 1 cup; 250 ml) and the mushrooms seperately.

  • » in a tall stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. stir in the fresh mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. stir in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes.

  • » add the beets, carrots, pasnip, celery root, 8 cups (2 L) water, and the mushroom soaking liquid. bring to a boil. lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. stir in the potatoes, cabbage, garlic, and, if using, the beet greans (they add beautiful green color!). dissolve the tomato paste in 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the liquid and stir it back into the soup. return to a boil. lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. stir in the reconstituted dried mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender.

  • » remove from the heat. stir in the dill, sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper. pass bowls of chopped dill and sour cream at the table.