Growing up, among my favorite books one could find a collection of poetry for children by Polish authors. It was wonderfully translated into Russian by various talented Russian writers. I loved many of the poems and you could hear me reciting some of them quite frequently.
One of the poems was about a lady who brought a bunch of vegetables from the market. She emptied her baskets on the table and vegetables argue which one is the best tasting and most healthful. Then the lady takes the knife, chops the vegetables and places them in a pot. After cooking for a while, a nice soup is being served. Nice and simple. My favorite part was that each verse was ending the same way — listing all the vegetables in same order — potatoes, cabbage, carrots, peas, parsley and beets.
Here is the poem in Russian, for those who can understand it:
Юлиан Тувим (перевод С. Михалкова)
Хозяйка однажды с базара пришла, Хозяйка с базара домой принесла: Картошку, Капусту, Морковку, Горох, Петрушку и свёклу. Ох! .. Вот овощи спор завели на столе √ Кто лучше, вкусней и нужней на земле: Картошка? Капуста? Морковка? Горох? Петрушка иль свёкла? Ох!.. Хозяйка тем временем ножик взяла. И ножиком этим крошить начала: Картошку, Капусту, Морковку, Горох, Петрушку и свёклу. Ох!.. Накрытые крышкой, в душном горшке Кипели, кипели в крутом кипятке: Картошка, Капуста, Морковка, Горох, Петрушка и свёкла. Ох!.. И суп овощной оказался неплох!
I was playing with my daughter today after performing some fridge housekeeping. I told her that we had lots of vegetables that need to be cooked, and remembered the aforementioned poem… After reciting it and having plenty of fun trying to make my perfectly English speaking child to repeat it back to me in Russian, it occurred to me that we have every vegetable on the list in our fridge. Now we had even more reason to make soup!
Without getting into a complex analysis of the recipe, I can happily report that the soup is a vegetarian borsch (beet based soup), with peas added. I never cooked borscht with peas before, so this was something new. We also decided to follow recipe “strictly” and not to add any tomato paste which borscht typically calls for. The only liberty we took was the addition of onions, because onions make everything taste better.
The end result turned out to be quite pleasing to our taste buds. The kid licked the plate clean and said we did a good job. And that, as you know, is the highest praise a mom can hear from an almost-six-year-old.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3-4 medium carrots, sliced in half lengthwise and chopped into half rounds
- 1 medium beet, thick julienne’ed
- 6-8 cups of water + stock
- 4-5 medium red potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 generous cup of shelled peas
- juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)
- salt, pepper, fresh herbs
Melt butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrots, saute for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant and onions become translucent. Don’t brown.
Add beets, toss around for another 2-3 minutes.
Add hot water and stock mix. Add potatoes.
Add thyme and bay leaf if desired at this time. Season to taste.
Bring to a boil, cover and cook until potatoes are almost done.
Add cabbage, cover and cook for about 7-8 minutes until cabbage becomes translucent but retains light crunch.
Add peas, cook for another 5 minutes or so.
Remove from heat, add lemon juice and fresh parsley, if desired.
Serve hot, with a dollop of sour cream.