The snow fell in colors of white and silver. White by day in big fluffy snow flakes, keeping all the neighbor kids out of school and silver by night in sleet and icy rain, keeping all the adults grounded in the suburbs. This should happen more often.
Magical things (aside from the fantastic glitter of icy windows and hills of white) happen when there is nothing to do, or should I say, no where to run to.
We live up a hill and our street freezes to a sheet of ice. The hill behind my neighbors is perfect for sledding and it became a weekend of fun and neighboring. In fact, after this particular weekend, we need more snow in Nashville.
We ended up eating Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with our neighbors, and it was perfect for cold weather and snow, as Maia is from the Republic of Georgia.
Georgians are robust with their emotions and a very warm people, much like Sicilians, perhaps even warmer. When you enter a Georgian home, there will be hours of sitting, eating and toasting as “relationship” is important to them. They would rather “give” than receive and they are willing to do without to give more. It’s their way, and why everyone should be blessed to know a Georgian family.
The Georgians enjoy their feasting with lots of wine and usually a toastmaster to keep the party going. They refer to this as a Supra.
And, that is what we did from Friday to Sunday as Maia prepared for us all the dishes of her homeland. Perhaps one day, I can try to make some of the favorites such as khinkali, a dumpling stuffed with meat and spices. The meat is filled uncooked. As it cooks inside the dough, it releases it juices which are then are first sucked out from the dumpling before one bites in to it.
Our feasting started quite impromptu on Friday afternoon, and the conversation went to borscht, actually a Russian dish, but one very common to Georgia. “I don’t eat borscht,” I said. Well, never say never because on Saturday, Maia called and said in her beautiful Georgian accent, “Angela I made the borscht, come try.” So off I went and two bowls later I asked for her recipe.
A few months ago, I was posting purple dishes, and boasting of all the health benefits delivered by deeply colored purple foods. And, it seems so cliche at times to talk about the “health benefits” of produce, yada yada yada, but let me tell you… as soon as I started to eat this soup, I felt better.
You know how the middle of winter can take its toll and make you feel a little down, sluggish, and not quite your wonderful self?
Have you ever noticed when you get a chocolate craving, and you bite in, you start to feel giddy?
Well, call me silly, but I felt like this soup was going through my veins and I started feeling a new vitality, so much so that I went for a run on the snowy, icy hills. Maybe this is why a soup such as this comes from a place that gets dark, cold winters.
A few things I learned from the snow:
1. I still hold food prejudices and I aim to get past that. Try everything once.
2. Every country has a food to brag about. Discover it.
3. The best cultures are those who enjoy the sitting for hours at the table with food and wine.
4. Neighbors that are also your friends are a double treasure.
5. Red beets are an elixer. (This is the opinion of the author).
6. Snow storms can have happy endings.
7. Running on icy, snowy hills is hard work; follow up with hot bath.
The one ingredient every borscht recipe includes is red beets. The typical ingredients are also cabbage, carrots, onion, and beef, and it is cooked in a beef broth. This is quite delicious and hearty, although you can choose to use as much or as little beef as you like. In this particular recipe, I was skipping meat, but did use homemade meat broth. I used purple cabbage and three types of vinegar, although this is not necessary. You can use one, and the cider vinegar is a great choice. The sour cream and fresh chives are the typical garnish and rightly so. You must try at least one cup with sour cream.
I will be making borscht again soon with beef and will be bringing you that recipe. I am also researching some Georgian dishes to make for you, especially the walnut sauce that they are so known for.
More Soup Recipes
- 1 pound of red beets, peeled, grated
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- ½ head of red cabbage, shredded
- 8 cups of meat broth
- vinegar: 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or 1 teaspoon of each of the following:
- apple cider vinegar
- rose vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
- balsamic vinegar
- fresh chives, chopped
- sour cream
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- option: hot sauce (Sriracha sauce is my choice)
- Shred beets and carrots. Set Aside.
- Soften onion in butter, add carrots, cook for a few minutes.
- Add beets and cabbage, cook for a minute.
- Add broth, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or 1 teaspoon of each vinegar. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce (to your taste).
- Cook until beets, cabbage are cooked through. Serve with vinegar and hot sauce at the table, and sour cream and chopped chives for garnish.
- Note: Feel free to add potatoes, just as you would with any other soup.