Natasha’s Borsch(t)

My friend Natasha is originally from the Ukraine and we confer on cooking quite regularly. She recently showed me how to make borscht (apparently, the t is either silent or non-existent in Russian). I’ll try to recreate what I saw her do, but it looks like one of those recipes that you feel your way through. Read the instructions all the way through (a couple times) before starting as timing is pretty important and you need to be able to do several things at once.

3-4 white potatoes, chopped (bite-size)
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium carrots, coarsely shredded
half a small head white cabbage, shredded fine
1 large fresh beet
juice of half lemon
1 cup tomato sauce (with basil, if you can get it)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt or vegetable broth powder to taste
1/3 cup fresh chopped dill

Fill soup pot (at least 5-quart) to half-way with water and put potatoes in water. Add some salt and bring to a boil. At the same time, sauté onion and garlic in a skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil. After a couple of minutes, add carrots to skillet and sauté until tender. After potatoes have been simmering for 5-7 minutes, add cabbage shreds to soup pot. When carrots are done, add skillet mixture to soup pot and stir, keeping at a simmer.

Now things get kind of complex. Peel the beet and shred it coarsely – don’t do it before or the purply-red of the beet will be less intense. Sauté beet shreds in onion pan over medium heat, pouring lemon juice over them to retain deep red color. After 3-4 minutes, add tomato sauce to beet and stir thoroughly. Tomato sauce will take on beet color. When beet shreds are tender, pour them into the soup pot. Add chickpeas to soup pot and simmer for 10 more minutes, tasting frequently and adding salt or broth mix as necessary. When potato is fork-tender (but not mushy), soup is finished.

Remove soup pot from heat, put in dill and cover. Allow to sit for at least an hour before serving. Serve with dark bread.