Chill out. Does it take a war to break stereotypes?


Food is powerful way to raise awareness and educate people.Until Putin attacked Ukraine, many I believe had little understanding of how long that country´s sorry plight has been going on, and even more so the stereotypes surrounding Eastern European food.Take cabbage for instance.This brassica has always had a bad reputation with the British, often being associated with their school canteens. Nutrient rich brassica is the main reason why a lot of people are not keen to try Eastern European foods. Boiled cabbage is very  smelly 
I´ve heard people say. This is rich coming from a nation that boils it till its grey and cook all the goodness out of it.
As a child I remember my mother being so proud of a cold soup she made with beetroot and beef consommĂ© and called it Borstch. Borsch, Borsht, or bortsch,the beet soup of the Baltic countries was never spelled wit a"T" where she put it and the soup itself, though vaguely similar to its namesake, colour and broth were the only two loose connections ingredients wise. No way was it a true borsch in anybody´s language. Her soup was cold and was frappĂ© like in texture and its main component was a can of Campbells condensed beef consomme, much as the Americans did with a can of Campbell´s condensed cream of mushroom soup in their pasta sauces. There are two cold soups in Ukrainian cuisine and one of them involves beetroot but its not Borsch. Borsch is always served hot with chunks of meat in it. The cold beetroot soup I am introducing you to is incredibly refreshing in a summer such as this one. I guess its a hybrid of something the Russians call okroshka ( which comes from kroshit, meaning "to chop into small pieces") and the Ukrainians kholodnik ( "the cold one"I like the idea that it uses brined beetroot and I also like the idea of fresh radishes and cucumber in it too. If you dont have access to fresh horseradish, funk it up a bit with a small splash of sherry vinegar and a dash of tabasco.

Kholodnyk (cold beetroot soup)

1 pound beetroot, peeled and halved
5 cups cold water
1/2 tablespoon sugar or clear honey
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 waxy potato, peeled and diced
1 1/2 tbsp horseradish, peeled and grated
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper


To garnish
2 radishes, finely chopped
1/2 cucumber, diced
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tablespoon chopped dill
ice cubes, to serve


For the soup
Place the beetroot in a bowl or container, cover with the water and add 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt flakes and the sugar or honey. Leave it in your kitchen at room temperature for 2 days to let it brine lightly.
Drain the beetroot, reserving the brine. Cut it into thin slices and then into 1/4-inch dice.
Place the beetroot, stock and 1 cup of the reserved brine in a saucepan, taste for seasoning and bring to a boil.
Add the potato and cook for 15 minutes or until cooked through.Remove the potatoand strain the broth. Taste for seasoning, let the broth cool, cover and chill in the refrigerator.

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