Hello dear friends! Often when I tell older folks that I can, they will say, " I used to can, but we don't eat those types of foods anymore." And I'm always thinking, "What? you don't eat carrots, green beans, beets, potatoes or corn? You don't eat beef, pork, chicken or turkey?" Because I can everything, I can get my hands on. And that is why my grocery bills are so low. While canning is a very labor-intensive task, once it is done, it takes nothing to assemble a soup or stew, simply by opening a few jars and heating them through. Recipes like this borscht, which is one of our favorite cold-weather meals.
Firstly, I begin by sautéing up some onions and garlic. I use beef tallow that I render when I can my beef, but of course you can use any oil or fat, you desire to sauté yours.
Next, I use a jar of my home-canned beef. You can use any leftover beef roast or stew meat, or if time are really hard just use a can of beef broth, or if times are really, really hard use some of those beef granules and some water, or if you are a vegetarian, just leave the beef out altogether.
Then I stir in a jar of tomatoes, and jar of carrots drained. Save the drained liquids for a base for another soup. And an undrained jar of beets. Of course, you can use any combination of fresh, canned or frozen vegetables that you desire, if you don't have home-canned.
Then I add cubed potatoes and maybe some turnips, rutabagas or parsnips, depending on what I have available. And some shredded cabbage. You can use and combination you want. If you are making this for a crowd, you might add lots of potatoes or cabbage, which can often be purchased quite cheaply, to make it stretch. At this point, if I need to add more liquids, I will add some of the reserved drained liquids from the vegetables. Again, if you are stretching it for a crowd or for lots of meals, add more water to the soup. That was my pastor's advice when I was young and wondering how we would feed our growing family. Add more water to the soup!
To flavor the borscht I add dill, either fresh or dried. BTW, even if you don't have a vegetable garden you can grow some dill in your flower beds, it's just as pretty as any other filler plant. A pinch of thyme and paprika (we grow paprika peppers, dry and grind our own) a splash of balsamic vinegar, or some homemade apple vinegar. Sometime if I have jar of pickles in the fridge, I'll add some of the brine to the mixture. Salt and pepper to your taste. If it is too acidic for you add a bit of sugar. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt if you have some. So, that is my thought process when make soup. You really don't need a recipe, just follow your instincts.
Borscht is so healthy, with all those beets, carrots, tomatoes and cabbage, if I could only make one meal for my family, it would be this. Plus, it's very filling. If we only had a small garden, the only things I would grow, would be the vegetables that go into it: beets, carrots, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, dill and rutabagas. Is it any wonder that it was such a popular peasant food in Eastern Europe?
Notes on Canning
When I can my beets, I add 1 tablespoon of sugar and vinegar to each pint jar, then can as usual. Gives you a sort of pickled beet flavor without the spices.
When canning beef, I cut all the fat of and render the tallow, which I use in sauteing, greasing pans and even for baking. And of course, any bones go into a pot for making broth. Cube and brown the meat in batches, deglaze the frying pan, and boil in in a pot of water, while prepping the jars. This makes its own broth, which gives the cheap cuts of beef added flavor. Sometimes, if it doesn't look beefy enough, I'll stir in some of the beef granules, but just a bit because it tends to be very salty. I use the cheapest cut of beef roast, around here they are called English roasts. They are usually tough as old shoe leather, but when you can them this way, it tastes like the finest roast. As a matter of fact, our store is having a sale on them this week for $3.99/ lb. Cheaper than hamburger! Guess what I'll be doing this week?
Well, I hope that this post gives those that are timid in the kitchen some encouragement to experiment a little. Your kitchen is your kingdom, and you make the rules!