Beetroot soup. or barszcz, is a crucial part of the Christmas eve table and makes up just one of the 12 dishes served to honour the 12 apostles.
Our babcia’s barszcz has a vey important little chefs trick – double beetroot flavour! It’s a great philosophy to follow with so many dishes: add some of the key ingredient, fresh, to finish the dish. This gives you a much deeper and complex beetroot flavour.
One of our own little tips is to add some pickled cucumber brine at the end of cooking. Some people add lemon juice or vinegar to brighten the broth flavour, but we prefer pickle brine as it has extra flavour which works perfectly with this dish. Just make sure you’re using proper polskie ogorki, or polish cucumbers, which are naturally fermented in a salty brine, rather than pickled in vinegar which are much too sweet and just don’t have the right flavour. You can ask your local Polish deli for the best polskie ogorki, and you can tell the old school versions by looking for a cloudy, rather than clear brine.
This soup is served in a bowl with little wild mushroom tortellini, but is=t can also be served as a clear broth in a little tea cup with a side of krokiety z grzybami, crepes stuffed with mushrooms, or wolowonty z grzybami, puff pastry vol au vents stuffed with mushrooms and grilled with a little cheese on top.
Vegetarian Barszcz z uszkami, or beetroot broth with wild mushroom tortellini for Christmas Eve.
- 2 litres best quality vegetable stock
- 4 dried allspice berries
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 6 medium beetroot, peeled, grated
- 60ml vodka
- 2 or 3 teaspoons brine from pickled cucumbers (not vinegar based)
- 1/4 bunch chives, finely chopped
- white pepper and salt, to serve
wild mushroom tortellini
- 65g pasta flour
- 1 egg
- 30g butter
- 1 eschallot, chopped finely
- 3 dried cep mushrooms
- 6 swiss brown mushrooms, chopped finely
- To prepare mushroom parcels, place flour on a clean bench, making a well in centre. Crack egg into well. Mix slowly using a fork, dragging in flour, until mixture is combined. Knead dough for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Cover cep mushrooms with warm water. Stand for 15 minutes. Drain. Chop finely.
- Heat butter in a frying pan. Cook eschallot until soft. Add cep and swiss brown mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Season.
- Pass dough through a pasta machine on widest setting, repeating on all settings, until thin enough to see your hand through. Cut dough into 6cm circles (you will need 16). Divide mushroom filling among pasta circles. Brush edges with water and fold in half to form a semi-circle. Gently fold round to form a tortellini shape.
- Crush all spice berries with the back of a knife or mortar and pestle and place in a large pot along with stock and half the grated beetroot. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer on a low heat for 1 hour.
- Add the remaining beetroot and continue to simmer for 5 minutes, then strain the soup. Remove from heat and season with lots of ground white pepper, pickle brine and vodka to taste.
- Cook mushroom parcels in a saucepan of simmering, salted water for about 3 minutes or until tender.
- Divide soup and parcels among serving bowls and sprinkle with freshly chopped chives.