When you hear the word ‘soup’, not many people get excited. I always found it strange how excited Maria got when she spoke about her Mom’s beetroot soup, especially when she always said it’s her favourite meal of all time. Okay, it’s food, I understood that, but it was soup…hardly a filling meal! When this lunch was set, Maria was the first person on my list, and I may have told her what to bring; only because I had to find out what it was she always got so excited about.
Acknowledgement: Images were taken by Janine Shepard from Jinx Photography.
Maria educated us that afternoon, sharing a dish from her Polish culture and background. You’ll be surprised to know that the mushroom dumplings and beetroot soup are traditionally served together; and that’s how we all ate it. When I took my first mouthful, I instantly understood what Maria was always so excited about. This dish lit up everyone’s face. Not only is it a colourful dish, but it’s packed with vibrant flavours and every mouthful is such a treat. Even those at the table who don’t normally eat beetroot found this dish a pleasure.
I now understand what the fuss was all about; and I seriously urge everyone to try it. It’s easy to make and will become a new firm favourite of Mom’s – trust me!
Barszcz / Beetroot Soup
4 – 5 Medium beetroots, grated
3 Large carrots, grated
¼ Large green cabbage, shredded
1 Large onion, chopped
3 Tbs oil (olive oil or normal oil)
3 – 4 Bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
20ml White vinegar
125ml Fresh cream
1. Peel the onion, carrots and beetroot.
2. Add the oil to a large pot and heat on a medium heat.
3. When the oil is hot, add the onion to the oil and sweat the onions until soft.
4. Add the cabbage, beetroot and carrots to the pot.
5. Add the salt, pepper and bay leaves.
6. Allow this to simmer and soften, you can add a bit of water to prevent the bottom of the pot from burning.
7. Once all the vegetables are soft add water so that the vegetables are covered plus an added 2 inches (approximate).
8. Bring to the boil on a medium heat, stirring occasionally.
9. Add the vinegar, you can add more or less according to your preferred taste.
10. Cook for a further five minutes before adding the cream. The colour should be a slightly lighter purplish – red.
11. Serve with mushroom stuffed dumplings (Uszka).
Uszka / Mushroom stuffed dumplings
1 Punnet Button mushrooms
2 Tbs Breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ Cups flour
Pinch of salt
100 – 200ml Water (room temperature)
2 – 3 Tbs Oil
For the filling:
1. Peel and finely chop the onion (use a food blender to make it very fine).
2. Place into pan with melted butter and fry until translucent and golden brown.
3. Finely chop the mushrooms (again use a food blender until very fine), and add to the pan with onions and fry until the mixture has turned a dark brown colour.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the breadcrumbs and mix in thoroughly.
1. Place the flour and salt in a bowl and add some of the water.
2. Mix with hands and add more water until a ball has formed. (You know you have mixed it once the entire bowl is clear of any loose flour)
3. Add the oil to the pastry and knead the oil in with your thumbs in a massaging motion. This is to ensure that the pastry is pliable and not too hard.
4. Once the pastry is pliable, roll it out thinly (but not too thin) and using a glass (3-4cm in diameter) cut out circles in the pastry.
- Take each circle and stretch it out gently using your fingers, being careful not to break it and using a teaspoon, place one teaspoon of the mushroom filling into the centre of the circle.
- Fold the circle in half, ensuring the filling does not leak out and press lightly until you have a semi-circle
- Then taking the corners of the semi-circle, fold them carefully towards each other over the centre and press lightly so that they are joined and look like little parcels that you can place your finger through.
- In a pot, bring some water to the boil (add salt to the water).
- Once the water is boiling (not violently though) add a few of the Uszka to the water being careful to drop them in gently – one can also use a spoon to mix them once in the water GENTLY so as to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot and allow them to cook.
- Take them out once they start to float to the top.
- Drain them from excess water and serve with Barszcz (beetroot soup)