There will be pickle recipes, but today there’s a winter storm heading our way, and winter weather goes with soup. Or vice versa. Anyway, there are pickles in this soup.
I have no idea if this recipe is authentic. I just made it up as I went. I don’t even know if it’s really borscht. But it’s good enough.
I’m not really good at measuring things, which is why I depend on my wife for the important cooking in our house. I think less in terms of cups and tablespoons, and more in terms of handfuls, squirts and splats. That’s why no meal I cook ever tastes the same way twice. But they meet the standard for cooking by husbands: no one should actually die from them.
So, the measurements below are approximate. This is exceptionally easy to make and almost as fast as opening and heating one of those cans of Cream of Salt soup from the supermarket.
5 or 6 dry porcini mushrooms, crumbled
2½ cups water
½ pat of butter
¼ cup minced yellow onion
½ cup chopped fresh crimini or button mushrooms
Good shake of freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon beef bouillon paste
½ cup shredded pickled beets
Pinch dry parsley
2 splats of sour cream, perhaps thinned with milk
Nuke the porcini in ½ cup of water in the microwave for about 30 seconds and let steep (creating a sort of mushroom stock) while you do other stuff.
Sautee onions and other mushrooms in butter. Add pepper.
Add remaining water and bouillon—and doesn’t that word always seem to be spelled wrong?—paste. Add the beets. Add porcini in their stock. Sprinkle in the parsley now, or add it as a garnish when served.
Simmer until everything is cooked through and the flavors blended. Pour into cups, giving each a splat of sour cream.
I like to use shredded beet pickles from Poland (Lowell or Buraczki brand) because they do not include high fructose corn syrup. The “pickle” aspect of them adds a bit of tartness I like. I suppose real cooks start with raw beets and use the leaves, too. Frankly, I make enough mess in the kitchen already without adding raw beet carnage to the process.
Rather than bouillon cubes, I use Better Than Bouillon paste. This also comes in a reduced sodium version, but I haven’t yet tried it. Their reduced sodium chicken paste seems to work just fine in things, so I suspect the reduced sodium beef version would work in this recipe. The beefy flavor can overwhelm things, so use tentatively and taste as you go.
I also imagine you could make this into a vegan dish easily by omitting the bouillon and using some other oil for sautéing.