Russian Borsch recipe
After many requests for my Borsch recipe – here we go 🙂
Borsch is the famous soup in many Russian families, as well as many Eastern and Central European countries. Its recipes vary greatly and I do it quite differently from many (who would have thought? 😉 ), but beetroot and white cabbage are always there. Beetroot – that is what gives Borsch its trademark red colour. First <TIP> Great to be served with black bread/rye bread/pumpernickel and for those, adventurous enough, – with garlic and….another <TIP> …adults only :)… vodka: to have right before trying your first spoon of this marvel 🙂
<TIP> I call this soup “Yesterday soup” as its taste gets even better the next day.
Ingredients for winter Borsch (summer Borsch is cooked a bit differently again and without meat) for a big pot to feed the army LOL:
- 3-4 medium beetroots. <TIP> Must be round ones, looking like lovely pumpkins with a prefect shape or, for men, like good, round booties ;). See picture below. Boiled unpeeled in unsalted water.
- Half of head of white medium cabbage or ¼ of a big one. Shredded finely. See picture below.
- 3-4 medium to large carrots
- 4-6 potatoes. Peeled and sliced as for wedges. If prepared earlier – place them on cold water.
- 2-3 large onions, finely chopped. See picture below.
- 3-4 large ripe tomatoes
- Tomato paste
- A few pieces of meat preferably with bones (lamb or beef. Shanks are great. Or, even better – a bit of both). <TIP> Weirdly enough – this is the time when the cheaper cuts of meat give the dish more flavour.
- Herbs – bay leaves, black peppercorns, fresh (preferably) parsley and dill, Vegeta, coriander seeds and all other sorts that you can try and add to your taste.
The biggest <TIP>, the secret of this beautiful colour is to add cooked beetroot to the soup, last.
Many people cook beetroot in the soup –then take it out, shred it, & put it back. Some chop it and add to the soup to be cooked like that. There is no right and wrong. I do it my way.
I just boil beetroot in unsalted water until it is soft. <TIP> – check with the knife if it goes smoothly in and out – beetroot is cooked. Then peel the skin and put aside to cool down to be shredded and added to the soup at the last minute.
Start cooking the meat broth. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. <TIP> Remove any fat floating on the top (use a spoon). Cook at low heat for 1½ hours at least or until meat comes off the bone.
Meanwhile prepare your onion (finely chopped) and carrots (shredded) and start sautéing them with vegetable oil in a big frying pan. Fist the onions until they turn gold (stir periodically), then add carrots, sauté until they are very soft (10-15 min), then add tomatoes chopped and sauté again – another 10 min or so. <TIP> I have learnt to have the lid on and off and change constantly, depending if I want to see my vegetables a little bit more gold (the lid is off) or make them softer and prevent burning (lid on) 🙂
When all the mixture become more like it belongs 🙂 – add tomato paste – 2-3 big spoons or it depends on how many tomatoes I have for the soup. If I don’t have enough – I will add more paste. Sauté another 2 minutes or so.
When the meat broth is cooked (after 1½ hours) add finely chopped cabbage <TIP> I squeeze the cabbage with a bit of salt after chopping so it tastes softer in the soup to the soup, add bay leaves and peppercorns – cook for another 20-30 minutes, then add chopped potatoes – I prefer them cut as I would cut them for wedges – cook for another 20 minutes.
Then add your sauté veggies to the soup, add all your herbs with the exception of the fresh ones, salt and pepper to your taste. <TIP> – I add a bit of sugar. The amount depends on how good my beetroots are. If they are sweet – just one big spoon of sugar will do. If the beetroot is not that good – I will add more sugar. And taste, taste, taste – adding salt, pepper and sugar till you love it J Simmer for another 10 minutes or so.
Then add your pre-prepared beetroot, already shredded. Simmer for another 5 min. Check the taste. Turn the heat off – add freshly chopped herbs to your taste.
At the table – serve with sour cream – put it separately so your guests can try Borsch with and without it; garlic cloves and black or rye bread. As mentioned before – you can have a shot of vodka right before your first spoonful – it will add to the experience 🙂