Thursday, November 15, 2007

15.11.07: Borscht

I served borscht today with a swirl of sour yogurt and garnish of chopped chives. I used a gallon or so of frozen beetroot puree left over from when Lou made her simple borscht, and following the Soup Bible recipe which I called complex borscht, because it contains mushrooms, apples and red pepper. The mushrooms - a 750g punnet from Somerfield - impart an earthy flavour to the base of the soup, which is important as I was not about to use beef stock, while the apples - half a dozen Bramleys - provide a fruity zing that worked well with the beetroot.

I started with half a dozen medium sized onions, roughly chopped and sweated in the bottom of the soup pot with half a dozen stalks of celery and two red bell peppers, seeded and roughly chopped. To this mixture, I added cumin (ground jeera in this case, since I didn't have any whole cumin seed), bay leaves, and dried thyme. Then I added the chopped mushrooms, continuing to cook over low heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally, while I peeled and chopped the apples.

After adding the apples to the pot, I tipped in the beetroot puree which I'd defrosted in another pot and added another couple of litres of stock. I used Marigold bouillon, adding a dessert spoon-sized dollop of Marmite to achieve a darker colour and richer flavour. I brought the pot back to the boil, simmered for about fifteen minutes and left the pot to cool for ten minutes before blending its contents with Gaynor.

I wasn't entirely satisfied with the consistency of the soup, so I passed it through a sieve into another pot, achieving a silky texture that was enhanced with the addition of sour yogurt (rather than cream). I used fresh yogurt form the EasiYo yogurt maker, thinning it with a little lemon juice, which one commentator found 'a little sour' which is surely the point? Anyway, this person - actually, it was Professor John Eacott (he's got a PhD in funk!) - also said the borscht was 'lovely' and 'worked a treat'.

Only about 15 people came in for soup today - one of whom declined to make a further donation on the grounds that he gave a fiver yesterday;-) - but it was good to see them all. Naveed (left) was among those who spared a half hour to hang out and chat. He's one of a small group of students of City Design & Social Science from the London School of Economics who are doing a project on the Pullens; its history and social evolution. They haven't quite worked out what angle each is going to take, yet, but will be looking to interview residents in the near future. So, if you're reading this and you live on the Pullens, or used to, and you've got something to say about about the experience, leave a comment here or come into the Soup Kitchen one lunchtime soon.

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