Saturday, January 4, 2014

How to make a huge pot of Borscht for Theophany

Apparently, in Russia, it is customary to have 12 specific Lenten dishes on Christmas Eve, which you make a lot of, and then eat again on the Eve of Theophany. These dishes include:

-Sauerkraut Soup
-Fermented Oatmeal
-Split Pea Soup
-Fish or Shrimp
-Garlic, horseradish, and honey with bread
-Kidney beans cooked with shredded potatoes
-Sauteed mushrooms
-Fruit compote
-Root soup

We learned this custom from our priest and his wife, who picked it up in seminary. We don't always have a supper on Christmas Eve, so we just make all this stuff fresh for Theophany. I signed up to make the borscht again. I don't remember how I made it last year, but this is what I did this year. This will make a huge stock pot-full. I cannot tell you exactly how much because my stock pot is full of borscht and I cannot lift it to look at the bottom to see the capacity. I would estimate that I've made about four gallons.

This was really easy with canned beets and a food processor with a shred setting. The selection was not good for fresh beets at our grocery store, just like last year when I tried to make borscht. I am often a picky purist about this kind of thing but my husband and I both thought the soup was just fine with canned beets. Maybe you will have the same problem in your area around Theophany. Wouldn't they have this problem in Russia too? I suppose they're practiced at beet-saving for the winter.

The main thing to remember is that if the beets are canned or cooked beforehand, boiling them with the other vegetables is unnecessary, and will detract from their color.

Amounts can be varied.

Huge Pot of Borscht
2-3 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 large carrots
1 large head of red cabbage
1 small head green cabbage (I used Savoy because our store was out of regular)
2 large potatoes
1 medium turnip
1 big parsnip
2 big cans crushed tomatoes
6 cans shoestring beets
A few tablespoons of olive oil

Saute the garlic and onions in the bottom of your stock pot. If you want to get very fancy and flavor-enhancey,  use another pan or even two to saute the carrots and cabbage as well. If you're stressed out don't do that. Use the shred setting on the food processor to make the carrots into "matchsticks" and add to the onion and garlic. Shred the cabbages, turnip, potatoes, and parsnip. Add to pot, along with tomatoes. Cover with water and add a few handfuls of salt. Bring to a boil. Simmer at medium temperature for about 20-30 minutes until vegetables are all tender. Finally add the beets, juice and all, and simmer gently until they are warmed to the same temperature as the other veggies.

Serve with yogurt or sour cream if you're not fasting.

It remains to be seen how long it will take this borscht to disappear. Right after I finished the soup, I plopped down on the couch next to my husband, who said "Holy Supper is cancelled." Here as well as in most of the greater Midwest, a huge winter storm is expected. So now I have about four gallons of borscht! We might take it over to Father and Presvytera's house tomorrow for lunch with others who live close by and already made a bunch of food too. I hope the person who signed up for the pierogis will come.

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