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My Favourite Herbal Soup - Summa Borscht ,
July 13, 2020

Aloe Vera Tips n' Solutions - July 13, 2020

Aloe Vera Tips & Solutions
newsletter/ezine of
Vol. 9 #109 July 13, 2020

Taking Care of Ourselves - My Favourite Herbal Soup - Summa Borscht

Contact & Policies

My Favourite Herbal Soup - Summa Borscht

Last week Monday, my brother Ernie, brought his fiancee by for lunch. Just two weeks earlier, talking with them on the phone I had mentioned that I was making a pot of summa borscht for myself. Ernie remembered that old family favourite from way back in his childhood. His first wife, Penny, had been of British roots, so he had not had Summa Borscht for many decades. He sounded quite envious. So when they announced that they were taking off the first week of July to drive to Alberta, B.C, and then back to Winnipeg, and they would stop in to introduce Dorothee to me on Monday at lunch, I knew right away that I would make Summa Borscht for that lunch.

I prepared a crockpot full of Summa Borscht, brought in spinach and radishes from my garden for a salad, and started Sunday on a cheesecake made from rhubarb in my garden for the dessert. The table was set, so it was just a matter of bringing the food on, and we could sit down to eat once they arrived.

I was planning to dig up one of my special sorrel plants in the garden to give them so they could have Summa Borscht whenever they wished. Dorothee eagerly copied the recipe from the old Aberdeen Ladies Aide cookbook. However, Ernie settled for some seeds. He also took encouragement when I explained that the sorrel we use in the borscht is often found in the ditches along the prairie roads. However, if you pick it there, you need to wash it very thoroughly because we don't know if the farmers have sprayed the ditches along with their fields when they spray weed-killer for their crops.

I had suggested to Dad years ago, that if he went to dig up some of those free sorrel plants in the ditches and transplanted them into our garden we could count on poison-free sorrel leaves for our summa borscht at any time we wished. In fact we could cut enough to freeze for use in the winter. Dad had cheerfully done just that, and planted them under the fences around our garden. That way they would not get mowed down when he rotortilled the garden in spring. Ernie liked this idea and I'm fairly sure he'll be doing that too.

Ernie and Dorothee will have their wedding by live video on the 18th in Ernie's friend's studio. Then next summer, the kith and kin from both their families will be invited to a big event at which they will introduce and hope to merge their families. (Both have two adult married children, and grandchildren, but Dorothee's daughter in the USA is not able to come over the border at this time.)

My Summa Borscht Recipe

I thought this was a fairly rare recipe - maybe only from our family, but I just did a Google search and there are PLENTY of sites which offer many versions of this recipe. Well, I know that even in tight-knit Mennonite circles, each family will adjust their use of any recipe to the tastes of the family members. So in the end, every family develops their own editions of a recipe. I'll comment at the end on some substitions that I saw online.

Gr'ma Kroeker and my Mom always felt they had to start with a ham bone that still had some ham on it, and boiled it in their largest soup pot. They added these other ingredients as they got them ready. Because I've lived alone now for many years, I make mine in a medium sized pot and since ham bones are too big for my budget and tastes, I use smoked farmers' sausage. I'll cut up 12 to 24 inches of sausage, and boil the pieces in the pot while gathering and preparing the other ingredients.

About half an onion diced up, or almost a cup full of chopped green onions.
(even a diced clove of garlic is okay too)
3 or 4 diced potatoes (can be with peel on, if you like)
Chopped sorrel leaves; about half a cup or more (for medium pot) - or a whole cup or more for a huge stock pot
(Note: if you have no sorrel - you can substitute beet leaves or spinach)
A heaping tablespoon of washed and chopped dill
Another spoon full each, of chopped summer savoury, and parsley
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Allow to boil and simmer on the stove a good half hour or more. It will begin to smell really great, but it doesn't taste like true Summa Borscht in my mind, until I've added a good dash of buttermilk. About half a cup for a medium pot, or a whole cup for a large pot full. This is done just shortly before you bring it to the table.

In our family, when we had sour cream, we allowed each person to add a heaping tablespoon full to their bowl of borscht right at the table. Some loved and some could do without. It was up to personal preference.

Notes from online reading: I saw that some families were used to adding chopped up boiled egg to their Summa Borscht. (Really? Never tried that!)
Someone suggested that wild nettles might work. That's possible. I don't know of any wild nettles around here right now though.
Some talk of freezing it, but not with the cream or buttermilk in it; mine never lasts long enough to want to freeze some - I eat it for lunch and for supper until it is all gone. But I do freeze the herbs so I can make the borscht in winter as well. That includes beet leaves, because it is hard to get enough sorrel to last all through the winter. I'm letting my current 3-4 plants go to seed, so that I can sow more and increase my supply in the future.

Question: What is your favourite herbal soup? Want to share your recipe?

Contact & Policies - Constant

CONTACT INFO: Ruth Marlene Friesen (306)856-7785
903 23rd Street West, Saskatoon, SK. S7L 0A5 Canada.
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