There are few dishes that remind us more of home than a hearty bowl of soup. A warming bowl of slow-cooked ingredients mopped up with fresh bread inspires comfort and security and wherever you are in the world you will find soup in all its forms.
The French swear by onion soup, heavy with molten cheese. The Vietnamese hunch over fragrant bowls of Pho, we English love our pea and ham pottage while the Scots swear by a cullen skink.
But perhaps the worlds most consumed soup is Borscht. A warming concoction of ‘starchy’ root vegetables and with its distinctive purple hue, Borscht is a staple of many Eastern and Central European nations and an important part of their culinary heritage.
Making our way to The Samovar in Bayswater, it was clear that this was a restaurant design to provide a taste of the Motherland to its loyal customers and so there was no surprise to find Borscht on the menu.
• 3 potatoes, diced
• 3 beetroot, thoroughly washed (precooked beetroot will make life easier but less authentic)
• 1 white onion, finely chopped
• 2 carrots finely chopped
• 1/2 head of cabbage, thinly chopped
• 1 can white beans
• 1 large knob of butter
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 table spoons of reduced chicken stock or a couple of stock cubes.
• Juice of one lemon
• A large pinch of freshly ground pepper
• A small heap of chopped dill
• Salt to taste
• 200g sour cream
• A handful of fresh chives
1. Fill a large cooking pot with water. Add beetroots, cover, bring to the boil and cook for about an hour.
2. Once you can smoothly pierce the beets with a knife, remove from the water and set aside to cool.
3. Now add the potatoes into the same water and boil for 15-20 minutes until soft.
4. In a deep frying pan sautée your carrots in a little butter and add the onions. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent.
6. Meanwhile peal and dice the cool beets. When you peel beets, use rubber gloves over your hands unless you want red fingers. Once chopped add beets back to the pot with potatoes and cabbage.
7. Spoon in the chicken stock, lemon juice, pepper, bay leaves and the white beans and stir with a wooden spoon.
8. Now add the sautéed carrots and onions and the chopped dill.
9. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the cabbage is done.
10. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped chives.