Homemade is Better—Borscht

I put a call out to my fellow writers to see who would be interested in a team up.  Natalie responded and mentioned that she was looking into different cultures, one of them being the Ukraine.   Our conversation turned into discussion about borscht.  I don’t know about you, but a good borscht is easy to make, and heats you up on those cold days.  It has lots of great vegetables, and when simmered go a few hours the flavors just get better!

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Borscht originated in the Ukraine.  It’s also a popular dish in Russia and Poland.  The original recipe used cow parsnip and it was changed to beets later.  The beet is the reason the soup is so red in some pictures—my soup was more orange than red, but we all loved it!  My littlest one had a couple helpings of it as well, and she can be picky at times.

I chose to use canned beets, but raw beets would make this soup better.  I highly recommend buying rubber gloves for this; I use medical examining gloves quite often in the kitchen.  They come in handy for recipes like borscht or when I’m working with raw meat.  But, I digress. Back to the beets!

If you planted beets in your garden this year, here is one more recipe for you to use.  To use raw beets, though, you’re going to peel them and dice them into ½ inch cubes.  I’d use 3-4 large beets, as well.  I also chose to use diced tomatoes, but you could use whole plum tomatoes, just remember to remove the seeds.

When I think of borscht, I think of a hearty rustic soup.  With chunks of vegetables and sour cream.  A home cook could certainly get fancy and make all ingredients similar in size.  Truthfully, having your ingredients similar in size will make cooking time more consistent.  So, there is benefit in ensuring you dice everything the same size.

I hope you enjoy this soup as much as we do!

Borscht

Ingredients:

1 TBSP vegetable oil
2 carrots – peeled and diced
1 red onion – diced
2 celery stocks –   diced
3 cloves of garlic – minced
3-4 large beets – peeled and diced OR 2 cans drained and diced
1 can of diced tomatoes – drained
1 can of tomato paste
3 – 4 russet potatoes – peeled and diced
½ a head of a small cabbage (1/4 if the cabbage is large) – sliced thinly into 1” strips
½ cup of red wine
1L beef stock (or water if you want to make this vegetarian)
2 tsp of parsley
2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste
Sour cream (omit if you want this to be vegan)

Directions:
  • Prep all your ingredients.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and oil to a large pot and turn your heat onto high.
  • Stir the onions and garlic until they start to change color.
  • Add the celery and carrots and continue to sweat them.
  • Add a tsp of kosher salt (fine salt works too, you’ll add less salt later though).
  • You’re trying to add some browning to the bottom of the pot, stir occasionally to it doesn’t burn the mirepoix (equal parts of carrots, onions, and celery is called mirepoix in French cooking).
  • Add the red wine and scrap the brown stuff off the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the beets, potatoes, tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, 1 tsp of ground pepper, parsley, thyme, and the bay leaf.
  • Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and let it simmer until the potatoes are softened, about 1 hour
  • Remove the bay leaf and add the cabbage and cook for another 15 minutes until the cabbage softens.
  • Taste your awesome creation and add more salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
  • Add a dollop of crème sure and consume!
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