It’s Cold Out There !
Feels like 8 degrees today and that’s in Virginia Beach, not Sweden. A day for steaming hot comfort food and fireplaces. Oli’s winter soup fits the bill quite nicely. A riff on borscht, his rich and savory beef broth based soup is chock full of healthy veggies like carrots, beets, celery, potatoes and tomatoes. Slightly caramelized onions temper the acidity of tomatoes and chilies give it a hot kick. Protein from ground beef rounds out this hearty meal in a bowl. So, what’s a soup like this without hard cooked eggs? Yeah, it’s a riff on borscht, but those eggs bring back memories of grandma’s borscht so we think they are a must. No time to hard cook them? Poached eggs will work too. Now, comfort food like this does beg for a big dollop of crème fraîche or even sour cream. Go ahead – indulge. Slice some crusty peasant bread, crack open a dark beer, sit down in front of a crackling fire place and warm up. It’s cold out there.
Warning! Protect your counter top and cutting board from beets. Peel and cut them over wax paper or foil unless you want permanently pink accents in your kitchen. Some folks wear inexpensive, disposable plastic gloves as well. Just toss them when you are done.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 small bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
5 cups beef stock
1 cup cubed carrots, about 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup cubed beetroot, about 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup chopped celery, about 1/4-inch pieces
2 cups cubed potatoes, about 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
2 or 3 red chilies, finely chopped
4 hard cooked eggs
Celery leaves for garnish
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add beef and cook until browned. Remove pan from heat and reserve.
- Heat the remaining oil in a large pot over high heat. Throw in onions and cook while stirring until lightly browned.
- Stir in cooked beef, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, crushed tomatoes, garlic and beef stock. Bring to boil while stirring occasionally and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 1 hour.
- Stir in vegetables and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until veggies are tender. Season with salt to taste.
- Serve piping hot with hard cooked egg halves, a generous spoon of crème fraîche and a loaf of crusty peasant bread. Garnish with a big celery leaf or two.