Tomato borscht

Borscht comes in many variations, depending on its origins. In Russia and the Ukraine, it often includes tomatoes as well as beets. This version may seem a bit unusual at first, but you will fall in love with its rich color and fantastic taste—perfect for an elegant starter.

1 Heat the oil in a heavy pan over low heat. Gently cook the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, then add the beets. Cook gently for 10 minutes longer, stirring from time to time, until softened but not browned.

2 Add the ground spices, fresh tomatoes, tomato juice, and sun-dried tomatoes, then pour in the stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly, cover, and simmer very gently for 15 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft. Remove from the heat. Blend or process until velvety smooth. Check the seasoning, adding the soy sauce, salt, and pepper to taste.

3 Serve chilled, at room temperature, or slightly warm. If you do reheat the soup, do so gently over low heat. To serve, spoon into soup bowls and garnish with toasted cumin seeds and a spoonful of sour cream or crème fraîche.

Note For the best, most flavorful results, toast whole cumin seeds in a dry frying pan over medium heat for a few minutes until golden and aromatic. Grind to a powder using a mortar and pestle. Use immediately.

Serves 4

Prep time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped 1 garlic clove, chopped 8oz (225g) raw beets, peeled and finely grated 1 tsp freshly ground toasted cumin seeds (see note) V2 tsp ground cinnamon 8oz (225g) ripe fresh tomatoes, skinned and coarsely chopped 1 cup tomato juice

1 tbsp very finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 cups vegetable stock 1 tbsp soy sauce sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve toasted cumin seeds sour cream or crème fraîche

Ball (p31)

Works well with

Standard globe (pp22-35) Plum (pp64-73)

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