Saturday, December 16, 2006

Vegetarian Borscht

I find it interesting to see how recipes evolve, even my own. Tonight, I am having nine people to dinner one of whom cannot eat any fat. I checked and she is able to have a vegetable soup. I decided to make my vegetarian borscht from the opening section of Vegetable Love.

I simply avoided any fat. How? I took advantage of the relatively modern wonder of a good, heavy-weight, non-stick pan. I put in the sliced mushrooms and let them cook slowly stirring and tossing from time to time until they were half-cooked and had let off a lot of their water. I stirred in the chopped onions and let them cook, stirring from time to time, until they were translucent. I then proceeded with the rest of the recipe in the usual way. I will serve it without stirring in the heavy or sour cream passing them on the side for those who can tolerate or even enjoy some fat.

The recipe in the book had in its turn a developmental recipe. I started out many years ago-- indeed for my very first published article, a piece on sweet and sour foods for Vogue-- making a conventional meat-rich borscht. It had pork even though I was trying to please my father a Russian Jew with a rendition of his childhood pleasure. It did soon dawn on me that pork was hardly the proper ingredient and I turned to beef. More years and more thought revealed the very simple reality to me that that original soup cannot have been made with meat at all given the inclusion of dairy foods; hence, the vegetarian version.

Each of these versions is good and has been eaten by countless friends without protest and quite possibly with pleasure. Anybody who would like can try any of them. They have all been published.

Today, I like the lightest version. If my father--a hearty eater--were still around, I hope that he would have approved and even his mother would not have been insulted.

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