Borsch with Beans

English and Romanian Recipes from Delia Foord




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Borsch with Beans

Borsch with Beans, just waiting to be eaten.

My Grandma piously turns vegetarian every Advent and Lent, and this is one of her (and mine) favourites.

It is easy to make and it matches deliciously with the traditional mamaliga (maybe because the polenta in it has a smoothness and a sweetness that counterbalance the sourness of the borsch much better than any bread would do!).

Contrary to common Western belief, Romanian borsch is not the same thing as the Russian red beet soup. Romanian borsch is a liquid made from fermented wheat bran and added to soups at the end of their cooking time.

For 4 people you will need:

  • 100g dried haricot beans
  • ½ carrot, grated
  • ½ stick celery, chopped
  • ½ parsnip, grated
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1.8 litres water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • Pepper and salt (or stock cube or any other flavour enhancer)
  • Fresh parsley, celery, and lovage leaves, chopped finely
  • 1 spoon borsch powder [1]

First, the dried beans must be soaked overnight in plenty of water before you even think of starting to deal with them. Although so tiny-looking, these beans can be incredibly tough and they need cooking for at least 1.5 hours.

The beans having been soaked, you boil them in plenty of water for about ¾ hour, and then you drain them thoroughly, cover them with 1.8 litres water and boil them again for another ½-hour or more until they soften.

When they are ready, add the chopped vegetable (apart from the onion) and the fresh herbs.

While these are cooking, fry the onion: in a separate pan, heat up 1 spoonful of oil, add the chopped onion and cook until softened (5-7 minutes). Then add the tomato paste and 1 spoon of soup liquid and mix them with the onion.

When the vegetables are cooked, add 1 levelled spoon borsch powder, salt, pepper, and the onion mixture. Stir well, cook for another 3 minutes and serve. Garnish with the fresh parsley.

Borsch and bean soup is suitable for vegetarians.

[1]The borsch powder comes in sachets sold in Romanian shops, but as a substitute you can use either lemon or sauerkraut juice.

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Last edited Sun Jul 01 16:57:08 2007.

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