Saturday, January 05, 2008

Quick Vegan Borscht with Dilled Tofu Whip

I've been thinking about borscht a lot lately - I haven't made it in a while. I really love it when its made with fresh beef stock made in my pressure cooker, with the chunks of beef stirred back into the soup, but with DD being a vegan and with her graciously eating meat on Christmas Day but just that once, I figured I'd have to make vegetarian borscht. Vegetarian borscht is not my favorite, so I've been delaying.

Yesterday I received another box of vegetables from my CSA, so I really needed to clear out a couple of veggies that were hanging around from the last box. Vegetable soup seemed to be the most practical thing to make this morning, but as I was sauteeing the veggies in the pot, intending to make something else, on a whim, I decided to make a version of borscht. Its still simmering, so I'll let you know how it tastes after lunch.

What happened was that as I was sauteeing the onions, garlic, carrots and celery in the pot, I glugged in about 4 oz of cabernet sauvignon, and the deep purple color reminded me of beets, and that was enough to make me decide to make borscht! After I put the beets in, though, I searched my fridge for that wedge of cabbage that I was SURE was there, and alas, it was nowhere to be found, so I used two medium zucchini instead. I'm not sure if I can truly call it borscht if there is no cabbage, so with apologies to my dear Russian friends, here is what I did this morning:

Quick Vegan Almost-Borscht
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
A good glug of whatever wine you happen to have, maybe 3-4 oz
4 medium tomatoes, chunked
1/4 C chopped fresh parsley
1 15 oz can of chunked beets, cut in half if they are too large
3 smallish potatoes, peeled and chunked
1/4 of a small cabbage, sliced thin
1 quart water
2 tsps vegetable bouillion granules (I used not-beef flavored)
1 tsp herbes de Provence
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried dill weed
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 - 2 Tbs red wine vinegar or to taste after the soup is cooked

In a 5 quart dutch oven, saute the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in a Tbs or so of oil. When fragrant and translucent, about 3 or 4 minutes, pour in the wine and continuing sauteing. Quickly prep the other vegetables and add them in, as well as the bay leaves, herbes de Provence, bouillion granules, parsley, dill, pinch of sugar, salt and pepper. Stir all around quickly, making sure that nothing sticks to the pan, and then add in the water. Stir well and taste for salt and pepper. Let simmer slowly until everything is tender and the flavors are well melded, at least a half hour, but at this point it could really simmer for quite a while. Mine simmered for about an hour. Taste again for salt and pepper, and even adjust the dill flavor. Stir in the vinegar and serve.

This is traditionally topped with sour cream, but we will serve it with the last small rustic loaf of rosemary bread and Earth Balance.

I would normally use or 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes with their juice, but I had a few tomatoes that were crying to be eaten soon, so I used them without peeling them. If I let the soup simmer long enough for the tomatoes to break down, maybe an hour, it should be fine. I will update you after lunch!
Apres Lunch: It was delicious, and the tomato skins were not a problem as I had feared. I was really missing the sour cream, though, but then I remembered that in a corner of the fridge was the failed experiment in trying to replicate ranch dip using tofu as a base. When I made it, I thought that the dill was too strong a flavor and it didn't resemble ranch dip at all. It was very disappointing in that regard, and I never did do anthing with it at all, but it was delicious on top of the nearly borscht. I'll try to remember how I made it - I think I wrote it down somewhere - and will post it soon.
PS: If anyone has a homemade (no expensive packets of seasonings) tofu-based recipe for REAL ranch dressing - PLEASE share it!


Vicki said...

Sour cream and dill on top of soup is marvelous.

Did you mother-in-law make Eish Al-Saraya? A dessert that is served in Lebanon and Syria.

Mimi said...

I'm so jealous your CSA delivers all winter - we go from May - October.

I love Borscht.

missingbecheery said...

To Vicki - no, my mother in law never made that particular dessert, at least not when I was around to eat it. I had to google it to find out what it was - is it sort of like bread pudding?

To Mimi - When I lived in CA, that was how my CSA worked, too. But here in GA, the organic farm keeps going all year, and fills in with certified organic produce purchased elsewhere. The grapefruit that I'm getting are so sweet that I'm peeling them like oranges and eating 'em just like that! Yum!

vicki said...

Yes, it is similar. My favorite lebanese sweet.

I asked you in previous post whereabouts do you live in GA? If you are getting fresh veggies, I'm assuming you are south. I, too, moved to GA from CA in 2005. I'm in the North Georgia Mountains two miles south of North Carolina stateline.

I love your recipes and website.

missingbecheery said...

Hi Vicki,

I do live in coastal Georgia in the Savannah area. I moved from Silicon Valley (Palo Alto/Mountain View) in CA ten years ago. After living in CA for 18 years, it sure was a culture shock to move to Savannah! But all in all, I like living here. I certainly love my life here. I have no desire to move.

The furthest north that I've been has been Dahlonega, I think. Its very beautiful up there. My folks and I remarked about much it reminded us of happy days in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I'd love to take another trip to the mountains.

Psalme 121: I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.... One of my most favorite psalms - maybe even my most favorite.

Thanks for your kind words about my food blog. Please keep reading and commenting! I love the feedback!

Anonymous said...

I make a similar soup, throwing in a tin of kidney beans (or cooked black beans if i have time) for protein. I also sometimes replace the dill with coriander and add some paprika and fresh/powdered chilli to give it a lovely Mexican twist - and of course it still goes beautifully with sour cream!