The Jew And The Carrot

A Borscht to Beat Winter’s Bite

By Liza Schoenfein

Photograph by Liza Schoenfein

So much for eating light — it’s cold outside. Single-digit temperatures, as far as I’m concerned, call for heavy sustenance. This morning I woke up with a yen for borscht. Not the thin, creamy pink-liquid variety, mind you, but the chunky, assertive, sweet-and-sour, dill-spiked beef, potato and cabbage-laden one — the one that feels like vigor in a bowl.

So I made it, drawing from the Red Russian Soup in Barbara Kafka’s glorious “Soup: A Way of Life” (Artisan, 1998) and from my own variations from over the years. (My late mom made Barbara’s for me a couple of times, and since I adore both women, this is a pretty significant soup for me.) This time I added sunchokes — Jerusalem artichokes — because I couldn’t resist the immediate sense of warmth the name imparted as I scanned the parsnips, turnips, and other nobby things at the market. And I simplified things, throwing all the long-cooking ingredients into the pot at once and then, when that was about half done, adding the rest.

The key to this dish — which is really almost a stew — is the balance of flavors: the sweetness of the beets and honey; the sourness of the vinegar; the mellow savoriness of the meat; and the earthiness of all the root vegetables, all brought together through low, slow cooking. (I’ve thrown the whole mess — minus the garnishes — into the slow cooker and turned it on high for six hours with brilliant results, if that happens to interest you. Longer on low would undoubtedly work too, but my problem with slow cookers is that impatience is one of my strongest, um, virtues.)

In any case, this soup won’t be the quickest recipe in your file, but it’s easy, somewhat meditative work — to me, anyway — and it holds the promise of warmth, strength, and even delight.

Liza Schoenfein is food editor of the Forward. Contact her at schoenfein@forward.com and follow her on Twitter @LifeDeathDinner. Her personal blog is Life, Death & Dinner.

Read more


Polar Vortex Beef Borscht

By Liza Schoenfein

Photographs by Liza Schoenfein

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: about 3 hours
Serves: 8

2½ pounds beef chuck cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
32 ounces lower sodium beef broth
½ cup tomato paste
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup honey
4 dill fronds (about 6 inches long, about half a cup), tied into a bundle with kitchen string
1 teaspoon dill seed
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1½ pounds of beets (red, or a mixture of red and golden), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1½ pounds small waxy white or Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
1 pound sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes), halved
1 cup baby carrots, halved (or a cup very roughly chopped regular carrots)
1 pound savoy cabbage, shredded

Garnish with sour cream or a nondairy version such as Toffuti Sour Supreme and chopped fresh dill.

1) Place meat in a large pot and add onion, garlic, broth, tomato paste, vinegar, honey, dill fronds, dill seed, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; then lower heat and simmer for 1½ hours.

2) Fish out the wilted dill fronds. Add beets, potatoes, sunchokes, carrots and cabbage and cook about 1½ hours more, until meat is tender but vegetables are still in tact.

3) Garnish and serve.

Liza Schoenfein is food editor of the Forward. Contact her at schoenfein@forward.com and follow her on Twitter @LifeDeathDinner. Her personal blog is Life, Death & Dinner.

Read more


Buka's Nigerian Pepper Chicken Soup: Recipe

By Nat Goldberg

Buka’s Nigerian Chicken Pepper Soup

Serves 3

Ingredients

½ chicken

1 yellow onion, diced

Few sprigs of fresh mint

a few sprigs of fresh thyme

4 cups of chicken stock

Fresh habanero peppers (to taste) chopped fine

1 tbsp pepper soup spice

Salt to taste

Directions

Place chicken, onion, thyme, habanero peppers, salt and spices in a large pot.

Cook on a low flame for 25 minutes.

Add the stock and boil for an additional 20 minutes.

Remove from heat

Stir in mint and serve.

pepper soup spice sold at Buka Market

Read more


Recipe: High Plains Lentil, Sausage, and Kale Soup

By Molly Yeh

Molly Yeh

Lentil, Sausage, and Kale Soup

Based on Smitten Kitchen’s lentil soup with sausage, chard, and garlic

Ingredients

1/4 c olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
A pinch of chili pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
4 turkey or chicken Italian sausages (not pre-cooked), with the casings removed
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
6 c chicken or vegetable broth
1 c dried lentils
2 heaping handfuls of Kale, chopped into 1-2 inch pieces

Directions

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, chili flakes, salt and pepper, and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add the sausage and break up into small pieces with a spoon. Heat until cooked through.

Open the can of tomatoes and chop them into roughly 1/2-inch chunks. An easy way to do this is by cutting them with a pair of kitchen scissors while they’re still in the can. Add the tomatoes (with their juices) and the broth to the pot.

When the soup boils, rinse and add the lentils. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are cooked. Add the kale and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Read more


High Plains Shabbat

By Molly Yeh

Molly Yeh

In August, I left Brooklyn and moved to the North Dakota-Minnesota border where my boyfriend, Nick, is a fifth-generation farmer. I arrived just in time for harvest, so with Nick’s 14-hour tractor shifts, our Shabbat meals have been improvised, eaten out of Thermoses, and rustic. (“Rustic” is just my glorified way of saying that bits of soil from the field may or may not have made their way onto our utensils by the time we ate.)

What the locals don’t specify when you’re warned about the brutal winters here is that soup weather arrives much earlier than it does in Brooklyn. Which is something to celebrate; you take what you can when the tales of -40 degree temperatures start circulating. And so my favorite Shabbat meal thus far was a few weeks ago during navy bean harvest. It consisted of a simple but filling soup, shared with Nick during a very bumpy chisel-plowing ride.

The soup is a lentil soup, and it’s one that I made nearly every week during soup weather when I lived in Brooklyn. I’d add kale from the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket and sausage from Fleischer’s; this time I added kale from the farmstead garden and sausage from a local turkey farm. Both renditions were amazing.

Perched up on our little tractor seats, two spoons and one Thermos, our first bites instantly brought us back to Brooklyn in the fall. It was the kind of nostalgia that you really only get from a warm comforting dish, and it came on like a strong drink on an empty stomach. As the sun went down, we gobbled up that soup, and I peered out the tractor window where the crops stretched into the horizon. It wasn’t a traditional Shabbat, and admittedly it wasn’t totally restful either, but it was indeed memorable, beautiful, and delicious.

Click here for Molly Yeh’s recipe for lentil, sausage and kale soup to warm those cold Shabbat nights.

Read more


Six Soups To Cool Down With This Week

By Devra Ferst

Leah Koenig
Farmers’ Market Schav: The lemony-flavored sorrel, a spinach look-alike, serves as the base for a largely forgotten, and delicious, soup called schav.

If you’ve looked at a thermometer lately, watched weather on the ones or stepped outside you’ve probably noticed that much of the country is in a heat wave. Never one to ditch my favorite hobby just because it’s getting a little hot in the kitchen, I’ve taken to preparing cold soups and so have many of my friends. So I asked around for everyone’s favorite cold soup recipes and was offered so many delicious recipes, I don’t know which to make first. These six are perfect for Shabbat or lunch during the week.

What’s your favorite cold soup? Tell us about it in the comments.

1) This red pepper soup is the “perfect summer soup,” says my friend Ari. “It wasn’t as complicated as many Ottolenghi recipes are, but had just the right amount of spice and herbs to make it an Ottolenghi classic.” [Yotam Ottolenghi’s Chilled Red Pepper Soup]

2) Monte Mathews who runs the food site Chewing the Fat offers his take on a classic vichyssoise. While the recipe calls for chicken stock, vegetable stock will work just fine. [Not My Mother’s Vichyssoise]

3) Fresh off of her honeymoon, my colleague Abigail Jones tried her hand in the kitchen to make this watermelon gazpacho. “It’s fast, easy and fresh. It’s also fool proof: drop a tomato, some watermelon and a few other veggies into a blender, then, you know, blend. And it’s delicious: a cold burst of fresh summer flavors, plus that great taste of feta mixed in. The best part? Chunks of watermelon you add to the soup before serving.” [Tyler Florence’s Watermelon Gazpacho]

4) Ingredients columnist Leah Koenig is one of my go to recipe gurus. She swears by this green gazpacho that’s made with greens (of course), walnuts and Greek yogurt. [Green Gazpacho from Leite’s Culinaria].

5) For a taste of the old world, try Leah’s own farmers’ market schav. It cooled down Jews on the Lower East Side long before the days of air conditioning. [Market Schav]

6) What would a roundup of cold soups on a Jewish site be without borscht? Every family seems to have their own take on the classic dish, but if you want to try something different, give this chunky borscht topped with avocado a try. [Chunky Borscht]

Read more


Mixing Bowl: Giving Matzo Balls a Rest; Resolution Recipes

By Devra Ferst

Bubbes around the world share pictures of themselves cooking in their kitchens. So cute, we almost want to pinch someone’s cheeks. [The Kitchn]

Give the old matzo ball soup a rest and try carrot soup with tahini and crisped chickpeas. [Smitten Kitchen]

Things are getting real! Here are 20 unspoken truths about the food world. [First We Feast]

Can’t wait for the Downton Abbey Season 3 premier on Sunday? Neither can we. Here’s a menu to celebrate the occasion. [Food52]

Virtuous meals to start the new year with (and to help keep those resolutions). [Serious Eats]

Read more


Spring Into Passover With a Seasonal Soup

By Dahlia Abraham-Klein

Photo By Dahlia Abraham-Klein
Passover (Chag Ha Aviv, or the holiday of spring) is meant to do more than recall the story of our Exodus from Egypt; it also is a time to celebrate the abundance of earth’s newest bounty of vegetables and herbs that have just sprouted. Nearly 60 days ago, on Tu’Bishvat we planted seeds that would germinate, ushering in Spring with the earth’s first harvest. It coincides with our ancestor’s exodus from Egypt over three thousand years ago, which took us out of abject slavery to freedom and from utter darkness to brilliant light. Similarly, our people shackled in slavery, showing little hope of life, burst out of the House of Slaves as a Jewish nation, starting anew on Passover.

In modern times, Passover has become a holiday where a lot of the foods prepared, rely on processed items, like matzo meal, making one feel shackled down by the weight of those carb bombs. However in keeping with Chag Ha Aviv, it’s more appropriate for seasonal produce to shine. Of the many dishes I am preparing for Passover, one is a Cauliflower and Leek Soup, which serves as an edible illustration to inculcate the story of Passover. This seasonal vegetable soup symbolizes the many meanings of Passover, with an emphasis on the newness of spring, where we have the potential as a nation to always renew ourselves.

Read more


The Root of a Great Soup

By Alyssa Berkowitz

Wikimedia Commons: Zyance

In the Northeast, as winter creeps upon us and the weather seems to only get colder and brisker, one food seems to continually pop into my appetite: soup. As a self-proclaimed soup aficionado, I frequently find myself preparing new soup recipes, testing them out at Shabbat meals. Since my lentil soup proved a pre-fast hit on Yom Kippur, I’ve been searching for the perfect winter soup to serve to my Shabbat meal guests. Perhaps most strikingly, chicken soup will be absent from my winter soup repertoire. I inherited my mother’s excellent knack for making chicken soup, always adding the most important ingredient of love, but this skill is all for naught since I began eating vegetarian this past summer. Sure, I can make vegetarian chicken soup, but I’d rather take advantage of the wonderful, seasonal offerings to make a winter soup.

One of the many wonderful things I learned last year had nothing to do with my studies in school, and more to do with cooking. I learned that soup, much like any other dish, didn’t need a recipe to turn out delicious. I had to trust my instincts, and my taste buds, to prepare creative meals. I loved the idea of cooking without recipes, as I have always been one to throw away instruction manuals and directions, and through a joint effort, my roommate and I began an almost weekly tradition of soup and homemade artisan bread. Our soups nursed us through our winter midterms, and a great pot of soup would last us a week, meaning less time we had to spend preparing meals as we got increasingly busy. Below are a few guidelines that will help you to prepare the perfect seasonal soup, leaving plenty of flexibility to make the soup uniquely yours.

Read more


Shabbat Meals: A Soup For Every Season

By Tamar Adler

iStock

Friday night dinners at our home were inviolable.

We rarely ate dinner out the rest of the week, but there were exceptions: good pasta con ceci at the Italian restaurant in the mall where my father drank sambuca with coffee beans floated in it, adventures in the city to find Peking duck.

Friday night dinner at home was an unbreakable rule, though. It was an amazing one in inciting no protest, even as my brother and I grew, and adolescent imperatives began to press against parental constraints.

Read more


Shabbat Meals: A Soviet Soup Tastes Like Freedom in the New Country

By Lea Zeltserman

Flickr

If you are Russian, then you know implicitly that, much like the proverbial tree in the forest, a meal didn’t actually happen unless soup was involved. Or, in my grandmother’s words, if we didn’t eat our soup, our kishki (intestines) would dry up. Consequently, I have spent a lot of my life eating soup.

Like any immigrant kitchen, my family’s new country has crept in and changed the way we eat over our 30-odd years in Canada. One of those moments came when I was 14, when we had already been here for 12 years. I returned from summer camp and announced that I was done with red meat. I don’t remember why, but I suspect it had more to do with “being cool” than with bovine well-being.

For Russians, vegetarianism was an unheard of indulgence. You ate what was available. But, I was stubborn, and my mother wasn’t keen to cook double dinners. We began eating more chicken and fish, and less red meat. But some things were sacrosanct. Soup was one of them and that soup often had meat in it.

Read more


What Jewish Food Would You Bring Back?

By Forward Staff

From crispy fried gribenes to the mouth-puckering sorrel soup, schav, too many of the foods loved by our Jewish ancestors have fallen to the wayside. Help the Forward’s Ingredients columnist, Leah Koenig, elect the top 10 traditional Jewish foods/dishes (Ashkenazi, Sephardic or other) to rescue from culinary oblivion and bring back to the contemporary table. Nominate your favorite lost treasures by posting comments here, or send your thoughts to ingredients@forward.com. Then watch for the final list in the March 11 issue of the Forward.

Read more



Would you like to receive updates about new stories?
























We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.