Saturday, January 10, 2009

Borscht (Pressure-Cooker or Not)

Record snowfall last month, record flooding this last week, it's been one of "those" winters and we've barely started!!

All the crazy weather puts me in the mood for soup. Well, pretty much ANYTHING puts me in the mood for soup.
One of my favorites growing up, was the delicious borscht my German-Russian Grandma would make. Smelling it cooking even now takes me back to her steam-filled kitchen with the soup-pot bubbling away on a rainy afternoon, munching on Pfeffernuesse and listening carefully to her heavily German-accented cooking tips. She never used a recipe.

Life seems to fly by a lot faster now, than 40 years ago when I sat in her kitchen. I wish I had time to stand and watch my soup simmer for hours. Fortunately I discovered that Grandma's Borscht translates very well to either a pressure cooker or crock-pot with nearly similar results.

For this particular recipe, I much prefer the pressure cooker as the veggies cook up beautifully but don't disintegrate. If you haven't discovered the wonders of this cooking machine, I implore you to read up on the benefits and see for yourself. I won't spend hours trying to convince you that modern pressure cookers are nothing like exploding vintage models, I could quote facts and show diagrams but I think it's all about what you're comfortable with. If it isn't something you see yourself ever using, then stick with a crock pot or the stove. But they are great time-saving devices. Huge. And the best part? My Grandma's Borscht takes about twenty minutes! I think she would be baffled by the need for speed but would approve of the authenticity of the final product.

Even if you think you're not a beet fan, you need to try borscht just once, you may be surprised at the subtle blend of flavors and what a wonderful, and healthy winter soup this is. No canned beets though. That would be so wrong. And don't worry about an exact measurement of each veggie, or using ones you don't care for - as long as you have around the total amount.

**If your veggies are organic, go ahead and leave the peelings on and scrub well. They soften up nicely in the pressure cooker.
If you want to do this in a crock-pot, peel the veggies first, chop in more uniform, smaller pieces and cook on low for about 5+ hours until done

Miller Family Borscht
(Pressure Cooker Edition)

2 Tbsp margarine
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 (28 oz. ) can chopped tomatoes
1 lb. small beets, scrubbed well, and sliced in 1/4 in. slices
1 lb. cabbage, coarsely shredded or chopped
3 large carrots, well-scrubbed, cut in 3 or 4 chunks
2 small parsnips, well-scrubbed, cut in 3 or 4 chunks
1 largish turnip or rutabaga, cut in chunks about the same size as the carrots and parsnips
Coarsely chopped chard, kale or beet tops, about 2 cups, packed.
6 cups vegetarian "beef" flavoured stock
3 bay leaves
2 tsp. caraway seeds
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
optional garnish:
vegan sour cream

Heat margarine in pressure cooker. Saute onion about three minutes, until soft. Add remaining ingredients except vinegar, sauerkraut and sour cream.

(I'm going to assume you already know how to use your particular pressure-cooker now - these are the guidelines that work with my model, but pretty standard for most types.)
Lock lid in place and bring to pressure over high heat. Adjust heat to maintain high pressure and cook for ten minutes. Quick release under cool running water. Remove bay leaves, stir in vinegar and add some salt if needed.
Garnish (optionally) with a spoonful of sour cream and/or sauerkraut and

I'll leave you with this fun picture of my daughter and her adorable hat. A family friend used the pattern from this knitter's blog and made this awesome "Brain-Monster (or Shark?)" Hat for her.
Totally perfect winter hat for a nine-year-old, don't you think??!! She's in LOVE with it.


T said...

This looks fabulous- and I'm so obsessed with beets, its a no-brainer to make it! I'm going to have to consider investing in a pressure cooker, I've been hearing a lot of good things lately. Otherwise I'll just adjust the cooking time I guess?

The Veggie Queen said...

I am a vegan pressure cooker pusher. I also think that they are one of the best things to use in the kitchen if you want to make quick work of vegan cooking. I sell them at my website and also provide useful information.
Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. Keep up the good vegan work.

Vegemommy said...

I have never used a pressure cooker. The soup looks fab, I'll have to check out the cooker-easier is good.

Veggie Cookster said...

Sounds delicious! I have a pressure cooker, but don't use it enough. I seem to use my crockpot all the time though. Thanks for sharing! And, adorable pic of your daughter and her hat! :)

The Veggie Guy said...

Can't say I've ever tried borscht, but with this recipe, I think I may have to give it a go. Beets are one of those "mystery vegetables" I've never really tried working with...

And what an adorable pic of your daughter! Very cute.

Chelsea said...

Awesome! I've never had borscht and I really want to try it! I loooooove beets :)

Jen aka Jewbacca said...

with me being a giant vegan, one would think i'd love beets. i just can't get into them. i don't know why, they're such beautiful vegetables and the word borscht sounds so bad ass. alas, no beets or okra for jewbacca.

your daughter is absolutely gnawdorable. what a fun hat.

Bianca said...

There was a time when I never thought I'd say this, but I love beets. And I've never had borscht. I'll have to give this recipe a go.

As for pressure cookers, I got one for Xmas last year and after a few bean-exploding/ over-cooked veggie episodes, I haven't used it again. I think I'll stick with my soup pot.

Alisa said...

That borscht sounds yummy and your little one looks adorable in that hat!

Carrie™ said...

Love the hat! That is just adorable. I love beets, so borscht is right up my alley. I haven't made it for a long you've got ideas in my head.