In my family, our favorite ash is a soup flavored with beets and mint.
Servings: About 4
1/2 lb. chopped chuck steak
1/3 c. brown lentils
1/4 c. med. grain rice, uncooked
1/3 c. dried black-eyed peas
5 oz. frozen chopped spinach
2-3 beets or 1 can whole beets
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. dried chives
1 T. dried crushed mint
1/4 c. dried parsley
1 1/2 t. salt
Step 1: Soak the beans overnight.
Step 2: Discard the bean water. To 1 quart boiling water, add the bones, meat, lentils, beans, parsley, chives, spinach and salt. Simmer 40 to 50 minutes.
Step 3: Remove the bones, and add the rice, lemon, beets (cut into large chunks) and mint. If using the canned beets, add the beet juice also. Simmer 15 minutes to 1 hour depending on whether using fresh or canned beets.
Recipe © Nura Amerson 1991
Aren’t beets beautiful? On the outside, they are lumpy and unremarkable—but peel off their rough skin to reveal edible rubies! Simmered, they give the borscht my husband makes and this ash their characteristic deep red hue. (But beware, these “rubies” can stain just about everything, as this clumsy cook has discovered!)
The combination of beets and legumes give this soup a sweet, earthy flavor. It is also very adaptable, accepting substitutions for just about every ingredient (except the beets, of course!). I made it in the era of grocery store shortages, so I couldn’t find dried black-eyed peas—but I did find pink beans, which worked just fine. (If you’re short on time, you can substitute canned beans for dried, but add them at the end of the cooking time since they are already soft.) I also decided to sub in fresh mint and parsley for the dried herbs the recipe calls for. The herbs made a tasty garnish, along with some yogurt.
- I used canned black-eyed peas instead of dried (because I’m lazy) and it worked just fine.
- I used canned spinach instead of frozen (because we happened to already have it) and it also worked fine.
- For “meat” I used Gardein beefless tips. I wasn’t sure if I needed to cook them before adding them to the soup, so I did just to be safe. I followed the instructions on the package to fry them in oil for about 10 minutes. I probably could’ve added them to the soup later than I did—by the end they were a little squishy, but not bad.
I didn’t closely follow the simmering instructions since I didn’t need to worry about fully cooking raw meat. I probably simmered for about an hour total. (Cover the pot! It lost a lot of water through steam and I ended up adding water toward the end.)
It was pretty easy to make and it was a hit!