Recently when I saw the news of a drive to get Unesco recognition of borscht, I was reminded on my trips to Wrocław and Warszawa. I was particularly smitten by their sour soups.
Here is my version of the Polish barszcz. Although many suggest to simply use lemon juice or vinegar for the sourness, I just simply could not not sour the beets (kwas). I found the beet fermentation is not as daunting as one might think. Moreover, kwas is a refreshing drink as well, with all the goodness of fermentation.
The clear ruby soup is not just an eye candy but also a delectable delight. Enjoy!
Fermentation Crock, pressure cooker.
- Kwas: 2 lbs beet, peeled and sliced + 2 slices of rye bread
- Beet stock : 2 large beets + vegetables (1 medium celeriac root+ 1 large carrot + 1 large onion), peeled and sliced
- 1 oz dehydrated mushroom (lion’s mane) soaked in a cup of water for few hours
- Seasoning: 2 crushed garlic + 1 tbsp butter + salt & sugar to taste
Kwas: Place the beet in the crock. Boil plenty of water and let cool till lukewarm. Then add to the beets, so that it is 1 inch above the beets. Add the bread slice. Cover with cheese cloth and a lid and let ferment for at least three days. Then remove the bread with a spatula. Using a strainer lined with cheese cloth, strain the liquid and store in mason jars.
Beet stock: Pressure cook all the vegetables in 8 cups of water (or about 1/2 inch above the level of vegetables) till tender. Strain to extract the clear stock.
Soup: Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 mins: 7 cups of stock + 3 cups kwas + 1/2 cup hydrating mushroom liquid + 2 cloves of garlic. Mix in 1 tbsp butter and turn off heat. Serve with sauteed mushrooms.
NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:
- I adapted from Fresh from Poland (by Michal Korkosz) and this online source.
- Kwas turned out to be a delicious drink, with a touch of sourness (think of it as a vegan chaas). If you don’t have a Fermentation Crock, you can use just a mason jar or a ceramic pot.
- You can use lemon juice (or vinegar) to taste, if you don’t want to go through the kwas fermenting process.
- You can also use parsnip, celery, leek etc. For the beet stock, as a rule of thumb use 2 lbs beet to 1 lb veggies.
- Instead of mushroom dumplings, I use simply sautéed mushrooms.
- The pressure cooker really softens the veggies, so the leftover pulp can be mashed with a masher. Mix with some chickpea flour (besan) to soak in the moisture + salt + spices (chilli powder, garlic powder and cumin) and press into a thin layer on a parchment lined tray. Score and bake for 25-30 mins. See picture below. Peel off the parchment and enjoy!