I love beets, in any form. Soup, of course. Pickled (my Mom made fantastic ones)…
…and in salad. The sweetness of beets, saltiness of feta cheese, a light vinaigrette, fresh chives, some greens underneath for extra nutrition… Fantastic!!
Recently, my niece Stephanie asked if I had her Babcia’s/my Mom’s recipe for Barszcz – more commonly spelled Borscht. Sadly, not on paper, but luckily, it’s in my head. Well, what she used and how she used it. Sound tricky?? It is, especially since it’s like none you’ve ever seen.
In addition to the freshly cooked beets, she added some meat broth – that came from simmering spare ribs – and then deboned the meat and added that. It would be served in a big bowl, with a small mountain of mashed potatoes, propped off to the side – like a small ski slope.
Filling… hearty… colourful too. She would somehow keep the soup such a startling, bright colour, a sort of pinkish-red, that anyone who encountered a bowl for the first time – was taken aback by its appearance.
“Get over the colour” I’d tell them. You’re gonna love it. Once I dug in, they would follow. Everyone fell in love with the Barscz. And my Mom. She had this unquenchable need to feed anyone that we brought home. Heaven help you – if you appeared ‘thin’ She’d practically want to force feed you. She’d settle though, for putting food in front of you and standing close by. Part of it may have been enduring World War II in Europe and not having enough to eat. Another part was, and this is the big part – it was one way of showing she cared.
My Mom was an exceptional talent in the kitchen and it’s to her that I owe my first love, my passion for all things culinary. With my niece asking, and my sister visiting at Christmas, will move this ‘recipe’ to the top of my kitchen to do list. I’ll keep you posted, Stephanie.