Pisnyi borsch (meatless beet soup)

Yield: 10 servings

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In Ukrainian cusine, borsch is a national dish. Its numerous adaptions have led to a plethora of forms. It may be a combination of many winter vegetables, with meat and sour cream, or it may be as simple as beet kvas with meat stock and shredded beets, garnished with mushroom dumplings, or just the broth from beets, kvas, and stock with vuska. There are regional disputes as to the most authentic form of borsch. This elegant version was popular in the Kievan region in the 1830's. 2 lb Beets 1 lg Carrot 1 md Parsnip 1 md Turnip 2 lg Celery Ribs 2 md Onions 1 lg Bay Leaf 3 Peppercorns; Use 4 If Desired 3 Dried Boletus Mushrooms; OR ½ lb Chopped Mushrooms ;Liquid From The Cooked Mushrooms, Optional 1 qt Beet Kvas; OR 1 ts Sour Salt; Crystallized Citric Acid If Not Using Kvas 2 ts Salt 1 ts Ground Pepper; Or To Taste 2 ts Fresh Dill; Chopped Soak boletus overnight. Cook in a little water until tender. Cool, reserving the liquid, and chop finely. Scrub the beets and cut into quarters. Cover with water and cook over low heat until tender, about 1 to 2 hours. Cool and pour off the liquid, reserving it.

Slip off the peels. (Wear rubber gloves to prevent purple hands.) This may be done a day in advance. Peel and cut up the other vegetables. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns, and boletus or mushrooms to the vegetables, with enough water to cover, and cook, in a large aluminum pot over low heat, until tender. Strain the beet liquid into the vegetables. Shred the beets in a processor or on a medium grater, and add. Simmer for about 10 minutes and strain into a large pot. To keep the broth clear, do not press the vegetables. Add the beet kvas, mushroom liquid, pepper and salt. bring to a gentle boil, then turn the heat low. Taste, the flavor should be tart, mellow, and full. For more tartness, add fresh lemon juice or sour salt.

Keeps well in the refrigerator. Reheat gently; do not overcook or the color will turn brown. To serve, pour over 3 or 4 vushka (dumplings) in soup plates and garnish with the fresh dill. Origin: FidoNet Home Cooking Echo Shared by: Rich Harper Submitted By SHARON STEVENS On 02-21-95

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