White Borscht Soup

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You may be asking yourself, “What is white borscht?” Well that’s exactly what I asked myself when I walked into a small café and saw the soup of the day.  Borscht is something I’ve made many times in the past, but it always has a distinct purple colour thanks to the beets.  So what made it a white borscht? The waitress could obviously sense my confusion and she offered to give me a sample. After one sip I knew it was exactly what I was going to order for lunch. As it turns out, white borscht is a lot like beet borscht, just minus the beets!

It was so good, I came home that same day and tried to recreate it. I couldn’t find anything online that resembled the flavours or texture of the soup I’d had at the café, so I made it up.  The result, although not exactly the same, was a delicious marriage of fresh dill, tender chunks of cabbage and potato and a light creamy broth. I topped it with a generous dollop of sour cream, more fresh dill and served it with warm cheddar biscuits (see biscuit recipe from this post).  This may not be a traditional white borscht, but nonetheless, this soup is delicious and perfect for these cold Fall nights. 

White Borscht Soup
Recipe by Kirsten, serves 6-8

1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small green pepper, diced
2 dried bay leaves
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cups of water
4 cups of low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 small head of green cabbage, (approx 600g), thinly sliced
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of sour cream (I used light or 5%), plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped.  If you don’t have fresh you can use dried dill – start with 1 teaspoon and adjust to taste.  

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Sauté onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and green pepper for 5-8 minutes or until onions start to become translucent.
2. Add remaining ingredients, except the sour cream and fresh dill.  Cook for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.
3. Next stir in sour cream and fresh dill. To serve ladle into bowls and top with more sour cream and dill.

Note: one of my favourite grocery store finds was a tube of tomato paste; think of a toothpaste tube but filled with tomato paste.  I’ve never made a recipe that called for the whole can of tomato paste and always ended up having to freeze the leftovers.  The tube is perfect because you can use what you need then put the cap back on and it’s ready for the next time you need it.

Creamy Sweet Potato Dahl

Creamy Sweet Potato Dahl by Breaking Bland Eats

My aversion to meat as a young child forced my mom to come up with creative ways to transform vegetables, and occasionally chicken or fish, into delicious meals for the whole family. We often ate vegetarian meals and to this day, even though I’m not quite as picky with meat, I still like to make a lot of meatless meals.  I always keep dried legumes and canned beans in my pantry so I can whip together nutritious meals even when my fridge isn’t well stocked. Beans and lentils are inexpensive, a good source of protein, and packed full of fibre – which helps to keep you full and satisfied!

This recipe is my take on an Indian lentil stew called Dahl. I added sweet potato and coconut milk for a touch of sweetness and fresh spinach because the bunch in my refrigerator was starting to look questionable.   All you need to complete this meal is some cooked basmati rice or naan bread.

Trust me you won’t miss the meat in this dish!

Creamy Sweet Potato Dahl

Serves 4-6, recipe by Kirsten

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and minced or ½ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons garam masala*
3 medium carrots, diced
1 medium sweet potato, diced
1 cup dried brown lentils
3 cups of water
1 can of coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
4 cups of packed spinach
1/4 cup cilantro (optional, but highly recommended!)

Cooked basmati rice or naan bread for serving

Directions:

1.  Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot, add onions and cook until soft – about 5 minutes.
2. Add ginger, garlic , jalapenos and spices and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until spices are fragrant.
3. Add lentils, carrots, sweet potato, and water. Cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally
4. Add coconut milk and salt, cook for another 10 minutes.
5. Add tomatoes and spinach and cook for 3 minutes until lentils are soft and spinach is wilted. Adjust seasoning to taste and stir in fresh cilantro if using.

*Note: Garam masala is a blend of ground spices which you can find it in the spice section of most grocery stores.