Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Day 18: Complex Borscht

I called this one 'Complex' Borscht in contrast to the Simple Borscht that Louisa made last week, which was basically a puree: a single varietal soup. This version comes straight out of The Soup Bible, incorporates apples and mushrooms and is garnished with very fresh yoghurt soured with lemon juice, so its flavours are more complex. If it's not a lot more complicated to make, it is more laborious.

I was able to offer a jug of very fresh yoghurt for the people to swirl into their soup because I've invested in an EasiYo yogurt maker. I it got off the internet from a firm at which EVERYONE WOULD LIKE TO THANK YOU FOR SHOPPING WITH US. Don't cha hate that, when they can't quite bring themselves to actually thank you? I mean, in my stairwell on the Pullens, there's a notice from Makers, the contractors who are refurbing the estate saying, 'WE WOULD LIKE TO INFORM YOU THAT THE SCAFFOLDING WILL BE COMING DOWN ON...' So, one wonders, what were their reservations?

Anyway, I digress (and the scaffolding came down weeks ago). The thing is, I've bought a yogurt maker that requires sachets of dehydrated milk powder. The sample worked really well so, as soon as I obtain a supply of these sachets, a jug of yogurt to swirl into your soup will become a staple of the Soup Kitchen.

There was about three kilos of beets, I reckon, in the 'fridge and I arduously peeled every single one first thing this morning, before a trip to Somerfield, where I was served by Alice and Lady Madonna by the Beatles was playing as I queued, segueing into You Can't Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones as I left. Which reminded me of Gimme Shelter, which I stayed up to watch on TV last night, remembering the first time I saw I saw it as a teenager. This time, never mind the murder, I savoured the juicy bits, like that scene at Muscle Shoals when they listen to the playback of Wild Horses for what looks like the first time.

I digress. Anyway, I assembled the indgrediments, seen on the left. Got the mushrooms the recipe called for, 250g, and looked around for a darker concentrated vegetable stock to work with the 'shrooms to give bottom to the flavour of the soup. Traditionally, borscht is made with beef stock. Louisa, in her Simple Borscht, substituted Marmite mixed into Marigold bouillon. I thought about using Marks & Sparks veggie stock concentrate, which is pretty good, but then I saw that new Oxo Concentrated Liquid Stock and thought I'd give it a go. I also picked up a couple of purple onions to co-ordinate with the beetroot, innit.

I had some celery in the fridge and probably one and half kilos of apples, 'local' Bramleys I got from Far Shares. Don't ask me what 'local' means in this context. Maybe someone's got a tree on their allotment? Or perhaps they've been scrumping?I also had about half a dozen red peppers, not the bell peppers, but those slightly more elongated and more piquant peppers that are sold by the stainless steel bowlful for a quid down East Street.

I chopped the onions and celery and sweated them over low heat in the bottom of the soup pot with a couple of bay leaves, adding fresh thyme (left over by Louisa) and cumin seeds, then seeded and chopped the peppers and added them to the pot. Adding a splash of hot water to prevent sticking, I chopped and added first the mushrooms, then the beets, and finally the apples, adding each to the pot and turning the cooking vegetables in their juices.

Then I added the Oxo Concentrated Liquid Stock, or tried to. It's two tablespoons to half a litre. The stuff isn't very runny and I probably needed two bottles to make the six litres of stock I needed. In the end, I added hot water to the bottle, gave it a shake, and mixed the contents 50/50 with Marigold. I poured four litres of this stock over the steaming vegetables, brought the pot to the boil, and simmered it for half and hour before blending.

Our liquidimizer - it's a Dynamic, apparently you can tell by the orange handle - needs servicing, to say the least. Louisa remarked on how it was grinding yesterday but she achieved a very silky consistency to her beany soup without, so far as I know, passing it through a sieve. I gave out a couple of bowls of rough borscht before deciding to pass it and I reckon it was well worth it. Everyone seemed to like it. At least, no one complained. Spookily, for the third day running, the number of bowls of soup served was 23.

Ingredients: beetroot, Bramley apples, mushrooms
Garnish: Sour yogurt
No. of bowls served: 23
Expenditure: £11.91
Donations: £28.87
EasiYo yoghurt maker: £21.04
Running balance: +£139.24

1 comment:

Naveed said...

Hi Russell

Just wanted to say thanks for your time and the delish beetroot soup today.

We had a fab time.

Kind regards,

Naveed (one of the 3 students)