variations on borsch

December 5th, 2006

Privyet, dear readers of food blog! I am taking break from translating Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” to do favor for Shelly, usual author of blog. I was just getting to juicy part, when phone rang. Expecting call from cursed ex-husband Alexei, I am drop book, [“Blin!” (blin is Russian slang word for a crap, yes?)], and answer phone.

“Da! Shto eto?!?” What you want, I say. (Alexei is rat bastard.)

“Um, hi? It’s me, Shelly.”

“Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, Shellinka! I thought you were Alexei, rat bastard ex-husband. Why you not say is you?”

“Sorry, Masha, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Kak dela?”

“Kharasho! Am good. All is good when Alexei does not call. May he be like chandelier, hanging in day and burning at night. How are you?”

“Heh, chandelier. Er, yeah, I’m fine, thanks. Trying to throw together some dinner.”

“And I am only trying to earn living, with no alimony from ex-husband and publisher’s deadline weaving over head!”


“No, not weaving. How is it? Loom… looming! Looming over head!”

“Yes. Wow. Yeah, that’s stressful.”

“Da. Life is stress. This is why there is wodka. Nu, why you calling, Shelly?”

“Well, with the weather turning cold and all, I was wondering if you had a good borsch recipe?”

“Cold? Weather is cold? Hehehe… you are funny! Is like Siberian summer!”

“Yes, well, I was thinking of making some soup, and I’ve got these beets in the fridge…”

“OK. You have big piece of meat on bone?”

“Um… no.”

“No? You have a fresh dill?”

“No, none of that either. Nope.”

“You have good Russian smetana?”

“I’m afraid not. Just some organic sour cream.”

“You are hear me shake my head on phone? You are feel me pull my hairs out with exuberation?”

“Um, exuberation?”

“Exasperation! I give myself new hairstyle with exasperation because you cannot make the borsch without a proper ingredients!”

“Oh. OK. I guess I’ll just improvise then.”

“Yes. Improvisation makes good results. One percent improvisation and ninety nine percents perspiration. Use deodorant.”

“Um, right, of course. Deodorant. Listen Masha, I’m sorry to bother you. I know you’re really stressed out now.”

“Dostoevsky is waiting for me. You make good soup. Don’t worry.”

“Thanks Masha, that’s sweet.”

“Plum jam is sweet. Poka, Shellinka.”

“Take care, Masha.”

Americans! Making borsch with sun-dry tomato and sushi. Is con-fusion cuisine!

con-fusion borsch with chard and garbanzo beans

butter and olive oil
1/2 large or 1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6-8 baby beets, chopped
1/2 thumb-sized piece of ginger
1 15 oz. (425 gr) can garbanzo beans, drained
water and/or vegetable stock
several handfuls of chard, rinsed
1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
ground carraway seeds to taste
1/2 tsp mild honey

  • In a heavy pot, heat the butter and olive oil over a low to medium flame. Cook the onions until almost golden, then add the garlic.
  • Add the chopped beets and stir, then add the garbanzo beans.
  • While the beets and beans cook, chop the ginger and add it to the pot.
  • Pour in the water or stock to cover, then pour in a little more, about an inch or so (2.54 cm) above the vegetables. Cover and simmer.
  • While the soup is simmering, chop the chard into ribbons. When the soup is bubbling, stir in the chard.
  • Slice the lemon in half and using a strainer, squeeze the juice of the lemon into the soup.
  • Season to taste with salt, pepper, and ground carraway seeds. Taste seasoning and correct, using the honey to balance the tartness of the lemon juice.

Garnish with any of the following:

  • Sour cream
  • Soft goat cheese
  • Raw leftover chard ribbons
  • Korean aged black garlic, chopped

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