For years, Sarah and I rented an art deco apartment on the street that skirts Princess Park. In my memory it’s perfect. Tall ceilings, original fittings and orange afternoon light that filtered through the trees into the front rooms. But it had a tiny kitchen with less than a metre square of bench space. Any food preparation was undertaken sitting at the kitchen table. Really, everything was done sitting at the kitchen table. We joked that from the table anything in the kitchen could be reached: cupboards, drawers, fridge, and sink.
Our friend Anna, when we didn’t even have a real kitchen table yet, just a green card-table with a tabletop that sunk in the middle, said it was the kind of kitchen where plans were made by too many people hunched around a tiny table, in a tiny kitchen, everyone drunk on cheap red wine. Many plans were definitely made in that kitchen, but most of them were for meals, or cakes and preserves – not revolution, which was what Anna had in mind.
This birthday borsch was a regular at the tiny kitchen table in winter and as the days are so short, we’ve started making it again. It’s a friend Tai’s recipe. Her birthday falls in the depths of winter and this is the soup she makes to warm winter bellies.
1 leek, chopped finely
4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
pinch of brown sugar
62.5g of butter (1/4 stick of butter)
5 large beetroots with greenery, peeled and quartered
2 potatoes, peeled and quartered
½ litre of chicken stock, (home made is best)
½ litre of boiling water
half a tin of cherry tomatoes
pepper and salt
chives, finely chopped
Gently fry leek and garlic with butter and brown sugar in a large heavy bottomed pot until soft. Add beetroot and potatoes to the pot with stock and boiling water. Bring to the boil and simmer 45-50 minutes until beetroot is soft. Add tomatoes and season. Blend until smooth.
Serve with sour cream, chives and hunks of rye bread.