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Slow-Cooker Hearty Borscht

Posted Jan 12 2011 5:31pm

Apologies for the short post today. But I am trying to keep to my pledge (to myself and all of you--how I assume a lot about the number of readers I have with my use of "all" :)) to post more often and regularly, even on busy days. Today is one such day. In addition, I was longing to curl up in a blanket with a good book and eschew all deadlines because it is so darn cold here today--17 degrees when I left to teach my 6 am class, to be exact. It's warmed up to 38, which, although balmy for January in Maine, is arctic in East Texas.

Lucky for me, I had borscht.

I've never made borscht before now, but I have been holding on to a recipe card--one of those sample recipe cards that appears in the mail on occasion to advertise a binder collection of cakes, cookies, home-style this or that, or in the case of this particular card, slow cooker soups and stews. I 'm not altogether certain of my reasons for saving the card. Kevin happens to despise beets in all forms, so I couldn't have kept it in hopes of making a hearty, healthy family repast. It's more likely I had been reading about superfoods--beets are---and thought it would be a cheap, easy, and delicious (I do not share Kevin's convictions of the humble beet) bowl-ful of goodness.

Five years later, I my instincts proved correct. 

After some adjustments to the original recipe, I threw this together in the slow cooker in about 15 minutes, then cooled it, and tucked it in the far recesses of the refrigerator in anticipation of lunch today. I couldn't wait; still freezing from my morning antics, I heated my first bowl at 10:15. I've been hovering over and slurping from multiple steaming cups the rest of the day long. Why have I not made this sooner? The ruby broth is earthy, slightly sweet, and utterly restorative. I swear that my lingering sniffles have abated and my thoughts seem clearer. I may be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound by this evening.

I planned to freeze half the soup, but no longer. I cannot wait to eat more tomorrow.

Slow-Cooker Borscht with Potatoes & Dill

2 pounds red beets, peeled and halved
3/4 pound russet potatoes, peeled and halved (about 2 medium-large potatoes)
1 large yellow onion, ends trimmed, peeled, quartered
5 cups vegetable broth
3 tbsp canned tomato paste
3 cups very finely shredded green cabbage(feel free to use pre-shredded coleslaw mix to save time--I did)
1-1/2 tbsp dried dill
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste

Optional garnishes:
plain Greek yogurt (or Tofutti Sour Supreme )
chopped flat-leaf parsley
hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
lemon wedges

Put beets, potatoes, onions, broth and tomato paste into a slow cooker and cook on high heat for 4 hours or low heat for 8 hours. Working in batches, carefully transfer half of soup solids to blender and purée until smooth; return to slow cooker. Add cabbage, stir well and cook on high for 45 minutes. Add dill, vinegar, lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste. Ladle soup into bowls and top with the garnishes of your choice (yogurt, parsley, eggs, lemon wedges). Makes 8 heart servings.
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