(Ukrainian beet soup)
Borshch (борщ) is an invigorating and beautifully hued soup with origins in Ukrainian cuisine. While there are are countless regional variations, most borshch has a base of beets in a subtly sour broth. Over time, borshch's popularity has spread beyond Ukraine, and this garnet stew now features prominently in the cuisines of many Eastern Slavic nations. You'll find a basic recipe below, one that you can customize to your taste.
Other names for borshch include barszcz (Polish), barščiai (Lithuanian), борш (Moldovan) and borş (Romanian). Spellings vary in English, including borsh, borsch, borsht (from the Yiddish, with the t silent).
4 to 6 servings
- Butter or oil -- 2 or 3 tablespoons
- Onion, finely chopped -- 1
- Beets, peeled and grated -- 1 pound
- Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced -- 1 cup
- Beef stock or water -- 2 quarts
- Red wine vinegar -- 3 or 4 tablespoons
- Sugar -- 1 tablespoon
- Salt and pepper -- to taste
- Sour cream -- 1/2 cup
- Fresh dill, chopped -- 1 bunch
- Heat the butter or oil over medium flame in a large pot. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Stir in the beets and tomatoes and stir to heat through. Pour in the stock or water, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning with vinegar and sugar as needed. The broth should be lightly tart-sweet, but not overwhelmingly so.
- Bring the ingredients to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked though yet retain their texture.
- Serve hot or cold in bowls garnished with a dollop of sour cream (smetana) and a sprinkling of chopped fresh dill. Hint: The flavor of borshch improves when served the next day.
- Meat: For a borshch with meat, add some cooked and chopped beef brisket, ham, sausages, beef frankfurters, or pork ribs to the simmering soup. Use about 2 to 3 cups total. Simmer until the meat is cooked through and tender.
- Vegetables: Try using a variety of vegetables. Saute some chopped carrots, celery, celery root, parsley root or mushrooms with the onions. Add some shredded cabbage, chunks of potato or parsnips to the simmering soup. Some say a true Ukrainian borshch must have beans. Use fresh green beans or cooked white beans. The amount of vegetables should be about 2 to 3 cups total. You can substitute 1/4 cup tomato paste for the chopped tomatoes if you prefer.
- Adding a Sour Twang: Borshch traditionally achieved its sour note by being left to ferment for a few days. These days vinegar speeds up the process. Other ingredients often used in place of vinegar include lemon juice, pickle juice, rhubarb juice or fermented beet kvas.
- To avoid staining your hands, use rubber gloves when peeling and grating the beets. The beets can be grated on a box grater or with a food processor. Alternatively, you can cut them into a small dice.