Once my garden produces an abundance of fresh herbs and vegetables, the time is right to cook Botvinka. Soups are very popular in Eastern Europe and are the first course of a lunch or dinner meal, just like tossed salads in the U.S.
The name for this soup derives from the description of the tops (botvinka – leaves, and stalks) of very young red beet plants, which are the major ingredient in this soup. This dish is full of goodness of fresh, young, green leafy vegetables, and because they are so tender, they require very short cooking time.
If you like tangy flavored soups, you will love Sorrel Borscht (Shchav). My first experience with tasting this dish was in a Polish restaurant, while visiting my family in Poland. My husband really liked the slightly tangy taste of this soup, so I have been preparing it during the sorrel growing season. The main ingredient is sorrel, of course, a simple herb but not easily found in a grocery store, but rather in a specialty food shop, or a garden (your own or your friend’s).
You can find a ready-made Shchav Borscht, in the Kosher section at your favorite grocery store, but its taste does not measure up to the fresh, homemade version. Once you make it at home, you most likely will never want to buy it pre-made.
The Great Lent begins on Monday, as it always does for the Byzantine Rite Catholics.
The Great Lent for Roman Catholics does not start until Ash Wednesday, so they have two extra days to enjoy meat meals. They also celebrate a very traditional Fat Thursday, when they enjoy their delicious “Paczki”, doughnuts.
I personally like to prepare meatless meals on Wednesdays and Fridays for the duration of the Great Lent, as well as during the full Holy Week, which is the week just before Easter Sunday.