Sunday, 26 May 2013

Soup Sunday: Borsch

I've never considered borsch my friend. Ours was one of those first encounters that were forever carved in my mind - but for all the wrong reasons. Blood and vomit related associations kept us apart for years until in Tallinn I convinced myself to give it a second chance.

And lo and behold - Von Krahli Aed's borsch was so dreamily light that we did, against all odds, become soul mates. If I remember correctly, Von Krahli Aed's version was served with elk meat, the gentle gaminess of which complimented this soup so wonderfully, but since there was still some reindeer mince left in the freezer, I rolled it into mini meat balls that I cooked in the soup. 

Normally I would have used the venison shavings that can be found in most Finnish supermarkets. I seasoned the mince with some salt and pepper and dropped them into the soup a couple of minutes before the soup was done. 

If you want, you could substitute some of the beets with carrots cut into julienne or even cabbage. And since every day is worth turning into a celebration - even if just by going through the extra mile with the presentation, I decorated the soup with some beetroot crisps. Not only does it look nice, it also showcases the main ingredient in a new way that really brings out the sweetness of the beets in an unparalleled way. Fennel's liquoricey notes add a nice depth to the soup.

For 3

3 beets (total weight around 300 g)
1 tbsp tomato concentrate
1 onion
1 fennel (200 g)
8 dl good stock
a couple of allspice peppers
salt, pepper
150 g reindeer mice/ venison shavings

Peel the beets and slice thinly. Leave a couple of slices for decoration. Cut the slices into juliennes - the thinner, the better. If using carrot or cabbage, do the same. Peel the outer leaves off the fennel, cut it in half and cut off the hard, woody core. Then slice it into equally thin slices. Slice the onion finely and gently fry in oil for a little while. Then add the remaining veg, let them soften a bit and pour the stock over them. Add the allspice. Cook over medium heat, covered, until the vegs are done. Then add the meat and let cook for a couple of more minutes. Serve with sour cream. If you want beetroot crisps, either fry them in hot oil or brush them with oil and bake in the oven (175°) until crisp. Keep an eye on them as they burn quickly.

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