Below, I am placing a text from the book "Lunch with the mother-in-law", read it - it is very interesting written, informative, reads quickly!
- Let's start with the basics, - said the mother-in-law, - and first decide on the amount of ingredients. Agree that, despite the formal title role in beetroot borscht, its excessive amount is unlikely to please eaters. Therefore, let's consider the dressing separately - as if we were making canned food in glass jars, on which “Borsch” would appear. Try to remember the following ratio of the main ingredients: for 4 parts by weight of beets, take 3 parts of cabbage, 1 part each of carrots, onions and celery (preferably but not necessary), and tomato paste - half as much as carrots. Of course, everything is rather arbitrary, but at least somehow you can navigate without weights.
I quickly figured it out in my mind, and it turned out that for 200 g of beets, you need to take 150 g of cabbage, 50 g of onions and carrots, and tomato paste - 25 g. Indeed, everything is simple.
“And now,” the mother-in-law continued, “we'll wash the vegetables and start peeling them. Now we will cut everything - carrots into strips, onions in half rings, cabbage into strips and large strips of beets.
- But we will start cooking with beets, because they cook longer than all vegetables.
The mother-in-law poured the beets into a thick-walled frying pan with high sides, added a piece of butter, poured a little broth from the coveted pan (just below the beet layer) and put it to simmer over low heat.
- When the beets begin to gurgle appetizingly, - the mother-in-law continued her educational program, - we will have to immediately add all the tomato and ... sugar to it. Yes, yes - sugar. Sugar loves borscht. Look, I add sugar not to borscht, but to beets - this way the taste of borscht will be more harmonious. Since you and I have figured out the number of servings of borsch in advance, we can safely put sugar at the rate of half a teaspoon per serving. If you find it too little, add it to the finished borscht. And let's not forget to add a little wine vinegar here - it is usually six percent. How much is a little? Just over the same half teaspoon per serving.
An acidic environment will certainly not discolor beets, but in an acidic environment, beets, like potatoes (remember this!) Cook much longer. But it is not at all necessary to add vinegar to the dressing for borscht - tomato acid is quite enough. And I will tell you a little secret about color a little later.
The mother-in-law reduced the heat of the burner, covered the pan with a lid and continued:
- While everything is gurgling there, it is necessary to sprinkle onions and carrots. We, professionals, call the process of frying food without the formation of a crust, I would even say, not frying, but rather warming up in fat. The meaning of this process is obvious - to enrich the taste, in this case borscht, with vegetable aromas.And all the aromas, as is known mainly to the excellent students of secondary and high school, have an ethereal nature, which means they dissolve well in fats. Got it? If not, I explain: the aromas of vegetables will turn into fat when browning, and this fat, in turn, will perfectly transfer everything that is needed to the soup. That's it!
Daria Andreevna lit a nearby burner, put another pan on it, poured some vegetable oil, put onions there, then, after
a short pause, carrots and lightly fried, not allowing a crust to form. Then she threw in the cabbage, poured in a little broth, added a little salt and covered with a lid.
“Now we’ll simmer the cabbage until cooked,” she said, “and when the beets and cabbage are ready, just mix them together. This is how we get a dressing, which I often prepare in advance and store in the refrigerator until you arrive, and then quickly and without much difficulty turn it into borscht.
- Here is the dressing, here is the broth. We put the broth on medium heat, bring to a boil and gradually add the dressing, trying to achieve the desired thickness .. If you miss the big side - it's okay, the rest of the dressing in the jar and in the refrigerator - in a couple of days you will cook the borsch again. If it is less, it is more serious, but also fixable. Add a little beans from a can - the borscht will be thicker and more satisfying, but there are no beans on hand - grate a little potatoes on a coarse grater and add to the pan ... By the way, I always do this - since I usually don't put potatoes in borscht, the next day it is in borscht - the environment is sour - dubs and becomes tasteless. Therefore, I grate a couple of potatoes on a coarse grater and put them in the broth. It is impossible to notice this potato in the borscht - it is colored with beets, but gives the soup richness and satiety.
All these operations (except for the last - the mother-in-law never missed) she did during her lecture, then threw a few peas of black pepper into the borscht, put a bay leaf, brought the borsch to a boil, reduced the heat and tried her work.
- It is imperative to try, - said Daria Andreevna, - first of all, to assess the salt - sugar - acid balance ”and, if necessary, adjust it.
A teaspoon of sugar and a small pinch of salt flew into the pan. The mother-in-law paused for a short time, turned off the heat, poured chopped garlic into the pan and covered everything with a lid.
- Borsch should not boil for a long time - just let it brew under the lid. In the meantime, he insists, I will tell you the secret of the bright red color of my borscht. Color is important for borscht like no other soup. You cannot achieve a beautiful color in the usual way - during the cooking process it still loses its intensity and even acquires unappetizing brown tones. However, I always have beet kvass frozen in ice cube trays in my freezer.
The mother-in-law opened the freezer and took out a few beet-colored cubes.
- Unique, I'll tell you, piece. To prepare it is as easy as shelling pears - you peel the beets, cut them into arbitrary pieces, fill them with cold water, put them in a warm place and forget them for a week. And here in front of you is a bright beet-colored liquid, sometimes a little stringy. This is beet kvass! I filter it, pour it into ice molds and freeze it. When the boiling borsch is turned off, several of these ice cubes are sent to the pan ...
In this way, with the preliminary preparation of the dressing, you can easily learn how to cook almost any soup. I would like, for example, sour cabbage soup - stew sauerkraut with the addition of raw shredded onions, tomato and sugar. You take five times more cabbage by weight than a tomato, as much onion as a tomato. Whether or not to rinse the cabbage before stewing is up to you, it depends on the acidity of the cabbage and affects the acidity of the cabbage soup. It remains only to put the stewed cabbage in the broth, bring to a boil, add bay leaves, crushed garlic and ground pepper. You can also drop a couple of dried fungi for flavor ...
Cook with pleasure and bon appetit!