Archive for December, 2010


borscht and sweet potato soup.

Can we talk about this affair I’m having with soup? Are we on that level? I’m dying to confess this to someone and I’ve yet to find the opportunity. This just feels right, so here goes.

What the hell, soup? You’ve cast a spell on me these days. I can’t break away from Udon soup. Believe me – I’ve tried. I get it with miso broth and always add a little cayenne pepper for spice. Yum. I’ve recently fallen for the Vegetarian Chili from Fresh Direct, too. Hello, flavor. Welcome to my lunchtime repertoire. Sometimes I pick up this Lentil soup from a Mediterranean place near my apartment, and – especially as someone who has never been a proponent for take out – I’m veering towards addiction.

The affair first got serious a couple of weeks ago. I was overcome with the need to make it at home, and I found myself drawn to my Eastern European roots for some reason. As in, I decided to make borscht.

I know borscht has mixed reviews, but I’ve always found it somewhat fascinating. Also, beets are trendy for maybe one more season and then they’re out, so I can’t afford to hesitate on this. I found this recipe in the “Herbs and Spices” cookbook my dad gifted me.

chunky borscht


2 tbsp cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into slices
1 small celery root, peeled and cut into chunks
1 turnip, peeled and cut into chunks
1 ¾ tsp salt
2 cups drained diced beets
1 ½ cups drained diced canned tomatoes (I used fresh)
3 ½ cups veg stock
3 c water
1/3 c chopped fresh dill
¼ c sour cream (I used greek yogurt)

The recipe also called for kielbasa, but I’m not going anywhere near meat for at least another year, so I left that out. You start by heating oil over moderate heat and then adding the onion. Cook for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the parsnips, celery root, turnip, and 1 tsp of salt, cover and cook for 5 minutes.  A word on the turnip – meh. I don’t get the appeal of this thing, if there is one. It’s pretty unattractive and doesn’t contribute the best flavor as far as I’m concerned. I included it because I’d never worked with it before and the recipe begged for it, but next time I’d leave it out. Sorry, borscht. The turnip is a crutch, and you can stand without it.

You then add the beets, tomatoes, broth, water, and the remaining salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Serve topped with sour cream (yogurt) and dill. Voila. My borscht was not my favorite soup of them all, but it didn’t deter me from trying more.

On Saturday, Giada made a sweet potato and rosemary soup that was much more up my alley. It pretty much spoke to me. I actually just finished my first meal of it, but I’ll get there. Let’s take a moment and appreciate the sweaty side of things.

I’m starting to get comfortable with variety, which is a huge win for my fitness routine. Rather than fall into yet another short-term fitness obsession (i.e. outdoor running, elliptical, treadmill, dance, yoga, circuit training), I’ve decided to do a mixture of them all, at all times. Save the outdoor running these days. It’s like 12 degrees daily with wind chill. Mother Nature, you bitch.

Saturday was the start of the variety integration. I went to the gym and started with some elliptical action, and then progressed to the stair stepper, the treadmill for some uphill walking (incline up to 16! Holla) followed by a mile run, and then rounded out the cardio with some spinning. Extreme cardio? Why, yes. Yes it is. But you didn’t witness my Friday night dinner of grilled cheese, fries and beer, did you?  Shameful.

Habit would have sent me to the gym again on Sunday, but variety suggested a yoga class. Many Downward Dogs later, and I was feeling pretty flexible and zen. I chased that with a hip hop class at my dance studio. It was so much fun, and I highly enjoy being the only white kid from the ‘burbs in there. Like, so much. I learned this fun new sliding foot thing I’m dying to show off, too. My whole body was sore today, which I’m attributing to Ms. Variety herself. Nice work, milady.

Now about that famed soup…

sweet potato and rosemary soup, while cooking


3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp olive oil
3 large or 6 small shallots, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper
2 lbs sweet potatoes (2-3) peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
2 stems rosemary
6 c chicken broth (I used veggie)
½ c mascarpone cheese (I used Greek yogurt)
3 tbsp maple syrup

You start by melting the butter and oil together in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, rosemary, and broth. Season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove rosemary stems, and then use an immersion blender to blend altogether. You’re looking for that baby food-like consistency that is so very trendy these days. I must have softened the sweet potatoes properly, because this thing pureed in like one minute flat. You then whisk in the cheese (yogurt in my case) and maple syrup, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

I’m trying to limit my bread intake and all, but I found this seeded bread at Whole Foods that happens to be the perfect companion for everything. Eggs? Check. Salad? Always. Soup? It’s almost insulting NOT to float a piece atop a nice puree. Therefore, I toasted a piece with some shredded Parmesan cheese and let it skim the top of my soup. Giada wins again, because this soup is all kinds of amazeballs. See below:

sweet potato and rosemary soup

December 2010