Today was a warm day for this time of year, but in all other respects pretty typical for a January day; wet, grey and still dark in the mornings and early afternoons.
There was still a bit of light when I got home this afternoon and I wandered down to the bottom of the garden to check up on my chickens and see what was still growing in the vegetable patch for dinner.
In Chinese medicine, it’s a good principle to try to eat food that’s in season as much as possible, then tweak the menu according to the weather and how you’re feeling health wise.When I was working as a geneticist in Japan I was really struck by how our company canteen really did stick to these principles, even in such a high tech. environment as a science park.
My rather forlorn looking vegetable patch came up trumps; beetroot, leeks and carrots still in the ground and onions and garlic hanging up in the green house. I had hoped for kale, chard and cabbage too, but my chickens had got there before me! At least they’re looking very healthy with all those iron rich leaves.
So borscht it was! The most vivid of soups for such a grey day, warming, comforting and full of flavour!
It was only when I was half way through grating the beetroot in my recipe that it occurred to me that the colour of my hands was going to need some explaining at work tomorrow!
I’ve used ingredients which balance the nature of this time of year as well as possible; a bit ofaromatic warmth balanced with turmeric, the root vegetables beetroot, carrots and potatoes balanced with celery, leeks and tomatoes.
for 6 to 8 people
2 red onions
dice these and cook them for 5 mins in some olive oil and butter or coconut oil (less damaged by heat and delicious)
Add the following, cut into reasonably small pieces;
2 sticks of celery
2 medium sized floury potatoes (like maris piper)
4 medium sized, peeled beetroots
stir into the oil and onions and cook with the lid on for ten mins.
1 grated beetroot
2 pieces of fresh turmeric grated (to complete the ruination of your hands for the next few days!)
a whole, small cabbage shredded thinly
4 crushed cloves of garlic
4 all spice berries
3 bay leaves
1.5 litres of good stock
simmer for 10 mins or until the veg are tender but not overcooked then add
1 litre of organic pasta
1 teaspoon grated black pepper
3 or 4 (taste to see how much you like) tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sundried tomato paste
2 teaspoons of pomegranate molasses if you have any
(you can replace the last three ingredients with some elderberry pontac if you have any)
simmer for another 5 mins
cool down a bit then serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream and a good sprinkle of chopped, fresh dill.
Lovely with warm, sour-dough bread.