Valley Bounty: Borscht

When I was little we lived in a suburb in western Connecticut not far outside New York City, and we’d often take the train in to spend the day in Manhattan. I have a vivid memory of being in a deli near Central Park and watching two men sitting at the counter eating bowls of a bright pink liquid I thought was Pepto-Bismol, and feeling very confused about what life in the city was like. Turns out they were eating borscht, and although I can’t really speak any more authoritatively about city life now than I could then, sometime in the intervening twenty years I did try my hand at making borscht. It’s a warm and inviting winter dish that’s easy to make with mostly local ingredients.

At its most basic level, borscht is a soup made from broth, beets, and something fermented — some recipes call for a kind of fermented beet juice called kvas, others use vinegar or buttermilk (borscht’s long history in several countries has led to a number of variations). The beets are what give it its iconic color. Other winter storage crops like potatoes, carrots, and onions are often added, along with dill and sour cream for garnish.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)