This is our eleventh day off in a row since we both got time off for the holidays, and right about now I am feeling as though I need a vacation from my vacation, perhaps to sit on a beach and eat lentils and dark leafy greens and drink, I don’t know, like, water or something and do yoga or whatever it is people do to relax without alcohol for another eleven days.
I know “I have just had eleven days off in a row” sounds less like a complaint and more like bragging, especially to those who haven’t had eleven days off in a row, but with all the to-dos we checked off our lists over the past week-and-a-half, I am mentally and socially exhausted – I can’t wait to go back to work tomorrow. On a related note, I am so very grateful for this Meatless Monday, which we are celebrating with dark-coloured vegetables and tea and a marathon of Arrested Development.
For dinner this evening, we ate borscht. It’s vegetarian-friendly, vegan-friendly if you don’t serve it with sour cream, and makes the most of the ingredients because the stock comes from the beets. Simmering whole beets for 90 minutes with garlic, bay leaves, caraway seeds, peppercorns, and fresh parsley not only cooks the beets, but creates a beautiful garnet-coloured stock which you will use as the base for your soup – no beef or chicken bones needed, and no nutrients wasted. This soup is a delicious restorative – tart and earthy – and will certainly do you some good.
My camera died, so the photos here were taken with a borrowed point-and-shoot that does not intend to cooperate with me. I apologize – everything will be all better soon, if bluish and grainy in the meantime.
Vegetarian borscht with beets and red cabbage
- 2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 1 tsp. caraway seeds
- 4 quarts water
- 1 lb. beets, scrubbed clean but not trimmed or peeled (three to four, about the size of baseballs)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 bunch fresh parsley
- 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
- 1 tbsp. Kosher salt
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 carrots, quartered lengthwise and chopped
- 2 stalks celery, quartered lengthwise and chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups shredded red cabbage
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (start with 1/4 cup and adjust to taste)
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
In a stock pot or other large pot, heat peppercorns and caraway seeds over medium-high heat for two to three minutes, or until spices are fragrant and caraway seeds start to pop. Add water, beets, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, and salt, and cook for 90 minutes.
Remove beets to an ice bath, and strain liquid through a mesh strainer into a container you can pour easily from. Discard solids. Peel, trim, and then dice beets. Set aside.
In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat oil and add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Sauté until glistening, then add beets, cabbage, and reserved stock. Reduce heat to medium, add 1/4 cup lemon juice, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until cabbage is soft. Taste, adding sugar and additional lemon juice as desired. Adjust seasonings, and serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and a sprinkling of caraway seeds.
Oh! One more thing. This blog has been nominated for a few awards, which is exciting! There’s a “People’s Choice” category (Best Canadian Food Blog) that you can vote for Well fed, flat broke in – here’s the voting form. And while you’re there, check out the other nominees in a wide range of categories – I’ve discovered a few great Canadian blogs I had never heard of, some that I think you’ll really like too.
And don’t forget to pay a visit to Midnight Maniac for another Meatless Monday blog carnival!