Russian Borscht


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You would think that Internet’s got every recipe of borscht there is. Nope, it’s missing mine!

Borscht has got to be the most popular soup on the territory of former Soviet Empire. Although it’s considered to be a first course dish, many will argue that it’s a meal. It usually assumed that borscht is a soup of Ukrainian origin, or at least that is what the English version of Wikipedia will tell you. I will allow myself to disagree with this statement and would rather agree with the Russian Wikipeadis version, which will tell you, that it’s a traditional dish of Eastern Slavs. Besides, there are SO many variations of borscht! Every restaurant, every cook and every family will have their own version of borscht. So, on the rights of an Eastern Slav, who happens to have her own recipe for this magical soup, I proclaim my borscht recipe a Russian Borscht.

I never EVER use store-bought stock to cook my borscht, I make my stock from scratch. I also use meat used for stock cooking in my borscht, but this is very optional. I was going to dedicate a post to cooking beef stock from scratch, and even took bunch of photos of the process some time ago, but a computer glitch took away a huge folder with all of my food photos. So, no recipe for now… Sorry! But this recipe is very close to what I’m doing. And if you decide to use store-bought stock, get a culinary kind. It is much more tastier.

You might not know this yet, but during this brutal winter that we are having, you really need some borscht in your life! Why? Because this what your “happy borscht face” will look like afterwards:

Happy Borscht Faces

Prelude is over. Let’s cook you some borscht!

Ingredients:
  • 3 quarts beef stock
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 head medium cabbage, shredded
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 3 small carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium beet, peeled and grated
  • 3 cups chopped tomatos
  • 2 bay leafs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • 3/4 to 1 cup chopped fresh herbs (such as dill, parsley and/or cilantro)
  • Sour cream, for serving

Borscht


Directions:
In the large stock pan, bring to boil beef stock over medium-high heat. Once boiling, add cubed potatoes. Turn the heat down to medium-low and bring to simmer. Add shredded cabbage, cover the pan with lid and simmer for about 15 minutes. 
In the meanwhile, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add shredded carrots and beets, and cook while stirring occasionally until all vegetables are tender, 7-10 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and cook for another 3-4 minutes. 

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Transfer cooked vegetables from sauté pan to stock pan, stir to combine, add bay leafs, cover with lid and let simmer for 30 minutes. 
The amount of salt and lemon juice needed will depend on such factors as the saltiness of beef stock, the sweetness of beet and the acidity of tomatoes. The salt, sweet and sour in borscht have to be somewhat equally balanced. So play with adjusting each property little by little. If there is not enough sweetness, you can add some sugar; start with a teaspoon of it.
Right before turning the heat off, stir in chopped herbs. Cover with lid and let stand for 15-30 minutes before serving.

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Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream right away, or…

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… or wait for “yesterday’s borscht.
Russian people have a saying “yesterday’s borscht is the BEST borscht”. This means that the next day  borscht always tastes batter. Once it’s cooled completely, put it in the fridge overnight and enjoy your “yesterday’s borscht” tomorrow.
Bon appétit.

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