White Russian Borscht at Andy’s Bakery on Commercial Drive – A Soup Review

White Russian Borscht

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White Russian Borscht at Andy's Bakery

Just yesterday, I was in Vancouver’s Commercial Drive area and I decided to go for lunch at Andy’s Bakery (935 Commercial Drive). My girlfriend Karen Winter (a soup-a-holic like myself) highly recommended that I checked out Andy’s for its Split Pea Soup and I’ve been meaning to do so for quite some time.  But when I first arrived, I was disappointed that the Split Pea Soup was not available – it was on the menu yesterday.  Awe shucks!

I thought to myself that I will have to come back to Andy’s for the Split Pea Soup another day. But one second later, the White Russian Borscht Soup stopped me from exiting the bakery. Hmnn, I never heard of White Russian Borscht. So, why not stay and have some?

Since I am very familiar of and a big fan of Ukrainian Borscht (I grew up in the north end of Winnipeg which was highly populated with Ukrainian delis and perogi houses), I was curious to find out what was the difference between Ukrainian Borscht and White Russian Borscht.

So a large cup it was!

I did like the taste of the White Russian Borscht soup. The soup had some fine tasting stock base with cabbage and seemed to be seasoned quite well with dill (although, I can tell it was dried dill and not fresh dill). The soup was light and not too heavy. I think potatoes were used to give it an additional creamy texture and not cream per se. The soup did not seem to have red beets but carrots may have given it an orange tint. I am guessing that no beets were used and turnips were used instead – hence the “White Borscht” label. I could only guess the other ingredients because the lady at the counter could not tell me what the ingredients were what-so-ever. Personally, I find it very odd that she did not know the ingredients. Employees should know when customers ask the question, no? Maybe the soup was a pre-made soup or prepared offsite? But still, there should be no excuse on not knowing the ingredients so that you can tell your customers.

So what are the differences between Ukrainian Borscht and White Russian Borscht?

I did a bit of online research and here is what I have found:

  • Ukranian Borscht: Is typically made with beetroot as main ingredient.  Other country recipes have tomatoes and then beetroot as main ingredients.
  • Russian Borscht: It seems as though there are many versions of Russian Borscht with beets, but no White Russian Borscht documented on forums or Wikipedia from a history stand point.
  • Polish Borscht: There is talk of a White Polish Borscht (aka zurek) which typically has dark rye flour, hard boiled eggs, smoked kielbasa and horseradish. That is NOT what I had yesterday.

But wait…..I did find one recipe that refers to White Russian Borscht that can be close to what I had yesterday. I am guessing that this version of borscht is newly created and not something handed down from our grandparents time. Chef Andrea Reusing’s White Borscht With Turnips, Savoy Cabbage and Horseradish recipe looks close to what I may have had yesterday and she does refer to it as “White Russian Borscht” in the article.

Have your heard of White Russian Borscht? If you personally know what it is or have made it in the past, please feel free to comment on this post!

The verdict of Andy’s Bakery White Russian Borscht Soup? Overall, I do recommend this soup if you are ever in the Commercial Drive area and in a rush. It did taste very good and won’t break the bank for $4.20 with a roll.  Don’t expect fine dinning or ambiance though, the eating area is basically a counter at the window – which was just fine for myself yesterday.

This soup is a contender to recreate at home in the future with some very minor tweaks. I would try to follow Andrea Reusing’s recipe (link above):

  • add fresh dill and lot’s of it. Andy’s soup had dried dill – it is easy to notice that.
  • use a splash of white wine to give the soup a little acidity and to elevate the taste.
  • use a dollop of sour cream on the top as garnish with a fresh sprig of dill.
  • use smoke bacon or kelbasa.
  • dice potatoes and turnip in a consistent manner and not let them get to mushy before serving.
  • used low sodium vegetable stock, especially if I use bacon.
  • serve it in a pretty white glass bowl.

Soup Mistress Rating for White Russian Borscht at Andy’s Bakery:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.5/5)
Presentation: (2.5/5) 
Taste: (3.5/5) 

Potato, Yam and Parsnip Chipotle Soup

Yam Potato Parsnip Chipolte Soup

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The completed Yam Potato Parsnip Chipolte Soup (vegetarian version with no chorizo)

Just yesterday, I made parsnip, yam and potato hash with poached eggs for breakfast. I really liked the buttery spicy taste of parsnips and how they played well with yams and potatoes. I thought to myself, “why not mix the three together in a soup?”

So I was on a hunt for a recipe and went on my merry way to Google. I must have looked at more than 20 recipes online and I decided to do my own rendition and simply call it Potato, Yam and Parsnip Chipotle Soup.

The verdict? Well, this soup is definitely one of my top five soups so far. I can’t wait to make this soup for friends or family. I really think the superstar ingredient is chipotle pepper in adobo sauce!

This soup is:

  • vegetarian (if you exclude the chorizo from recipe or use a soy-based alternative)
  • vegan (if you exclude the chorizo from recipe or use a soy-based alternative)
  • gluten-free

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, chopped small
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups yam, peeled and chopped small
  • 2 cups new potatoes, peels on and chopped small
  • 3 cups parsnips, peeled and chopped small
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped small
  • 1 – 10 oz chorizo sausage, cut in thin slices
  • 1 bunch of chives

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, saute until soft, about 5 minutes.Season with dash of pepper.
  2. Add yams, potatoes and parsnips, saute about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in vegetable broth and cumin, bring soup to boil. Reduce heat, simmer covered 20 minutes.
  4. Keeping 3 cups of potato, yam, parsnip aside. Puree the soup with chipotle pepper in a blender or food processor. Puree in batches if you need to.
  5. Return soup to pan with 2 cups of reserved solids (potato, yam, parsnip) and chives, gently heat through. If you want a thinner soup, add vegetable stock to your liking.
  6. In a separate pan, fry up chorizo for 2 minutes on medium to high heat.
  7. To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls and top with reserved solids, chorizo sausage and chives. Serve immediately.

The closest recipe I found was Sweet Potato and Chipolte Soup here.

What I changed from original recipe:

  • added chives
  • added parsnips
  • added potatoes
  • added additional clove of garlic
  • added chorizo sausage
  • replaced chicken broth with low sodium vegetable stock
  • omitted sour cream and tortilla wedges

Soup Mistress Rating for Potato, Yam and Parsnip Chipolte Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (5/5) 
Taste: (5/5) 

Pink Beet Soup for Breast Cancer Awareness in October

Pink Beet Soup

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Completed Pink Beet Soup for Breast Cancer Awareness Month


October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I am sure many of us have close friends or family members who had to deal with breast cancer. October is a time to:

  • support the cause with fundraisers by participating or donating (learn more on Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s site)
  • reflect on and support those who are currently fighting it, those who had survived breast cancer and those we lost from it
  • remind your female friends and family to do self-checks and get yearly mamograms. Early detection is very important in the fight against breast cancer.

One of my childhood friends, Michelle Cuthbertson-Jackson is a huge advocate of early detection and educating the young (she lost her mother to breast cancer). Michelle’s young daughter even knows what mamograms are – she calls them “mommy~grams”. Just recently, Michelle asked me for ideas on a soup that would represent Breast Cancer Awareness and one that has lots of antioxidants.

The first thing I thought of was beet soup with a low-fat cream base for the pink color, but I had to do my research to validate possible ingredients within various beet soup recipes that are deemed good antioxidants.

So what are antioxidants?

The National cancer institute fact sheet on antioxidants and cancer prevention fact sheet reads:

Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radical damage may lead to cancer. Antioxidants interact with and stabilize free radicals and may prevent some of the damage free radicals might otherwise cause. Examples of antioxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamins C, E, and A, and other substances.  (Source link)

I checked out many beet soup recipes, and the one that looked most enticing to me was Bob Blumer’s recipe that I will be tweaking a tad and adding some ingredients. Here’s some information on each of the ingredients I will be using in respect to antioxidant properties:

  • Onions, leeks and garlic – are all part of the Allium group, which have phytochemicals that have excellent antioxidant activity, including the ability to neutralise potentially harmful free radicals. Cancer preventative effects. Research has indicated that onions and garlic may have a role in the prevention of a wide range of cancers. The sulphur compounds in onions have proved to be strong anticarginogens. This is thought to be partially because they increase the activity of the body’s own detoxifying enzymes, which remove potentially cancer-causing substances. Flavonoids have also been shown to activate detoxifying enzymes.
    (Source link -PDF)
  • Beets – Beetroot are a rich source of potent antioxidants and nutrients, including magnesium, sodium, potassium and vitamin C, and betaine. (Source link)
  • Potato – all potatoes contain a good level of antioxidants; however, the pigmented varieties contain higher levels than paler-fleshed varieties (Source link)
  • Lemon juice – Citrus fruits including lemons, grapefruits and oranges, are loaded with antioxidants. (Source link – PDF)
  • Spices (clove, cinnamon, ginger and herbs (thyme) – are typical spices high in antioxidants (confirmed in vitro) (Source link)

Beet Soup – The perfect pink soup for Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-½ cups onion, chopped
  • 1-½ cups leek, chopped
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon chopped ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 gloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 cups red beets, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 cups potato, peeled (but keep peels on if new potatoes) chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • dash salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1-3/4 cups goat plain yogurt (reserve ¼ cup for garnish)

Cooking Instructions:

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onions, leeks, celery, ginger and garlic; cook until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in beets and potatoes, and cook for 1 minute.

2. Stir in vegetable stock, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, clove, thyme clove and dash of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; then turn down to a simmer right away and cover until the beets are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly (about 10 minutes). Remove and discard cinnamon stick, thyme sprig and cloves.

3. Add lemon juice, yogurt (1-1/2 cups only – leave ¼ cup for the swirl garnish) and soup to food processor, and pulse until liquefied (do it in batches if needed).

4. Return soup to saucepan, and gently heat through.

5. Ladle into bowls, and garnish with an outline of the breast cancer logo (add yogurt in Ziploc and cut a tiny hole on corner and then draw out the ribbon in the soup)

Original Recipe that I tried and adjusted: http://www.foodnetwork.ca/Recipes/Appetizer/Potatoes/recipe.html?dishid=6162

What I changed from original recipe:

  • change beets to chopped – didn’t roast them but cooked them slowly on simmer
  • added 3 gloves of garlic
  • added 2 teaspoon chopped ginger
  • added 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • added 1 cinnamon stick
  • added 3 cloves
  • added thyme sprig
  • used vegetable stock instead
  • didn’t sieve the soup – if you puree it long enough it is really smooth
  • replaced cream with goat yogurt and changed it from ½ cup to 1-3/4 cup (you can use any plain yogurt)

Soup Mistress Rating for Pink Beet Soup Recipe Makeover:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 
Taste: (5/5)