Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Borshch

Borshch (борщ), a cabbage and beetroot soup, is known in many, if not every, Slavic cuisine. I wouldn't be wrong to say that this soup all-Slavic. Borshch is delicious, nutritious and can be stored in a fridge for a few days without losing its taste. It actually becomes better the next day than on the day you cook it.

There are many variations of borshch. Ukrainian borsch is different from Russian, and Siberian is different from both. Not only every place but every cook has its own preferences and secrets. I once even took a master class from a local chief on how to cook a perfect borshch. Let me tell you without false modesty: my borshch is really good. My husband can confirm it. Here is my secret recipe, enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • Meat broth
  • One medium beet
  • Tomato paste - 3 tbls
  • Apple vinegar - 1 tbls
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Onion
  • Cabbage - chopped, about 2 cups
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • Garlic - 1 bit
  • Dill
  • Bay leaf, allspice - optional

Borshch is not an appetizer, it is a main dish, so make sure your broth is strong. I prefer beef broth made of a shoulder part (bone and quite enough of meat on that, I normally take 0.5-0.7 kg of meat for 2-2.5 liters of water). Ukrainian recipes, as far as I know, are usually based on duck or chicken broth. When the broth is ready, take the bones out of the broth. You may use vegetable broth if you like. You can also use a ready-made broth to save time, however, if you want to experience the true taste of the borshch, invest an extra hour and make a broth at home.

Meanwhile peel a beet root and chop it into strips (approximately 1-inch long). Saute it for 10-15 minutes in low heat with a tablespoon of a vegetable oil, three tablespoons of tomato paste and one tablespoon of apple vinegar. Tomato paste and vinegar help the soup keep its deep red color, so your borshch won't turn colorless when boiling. Add the beet to the broth when the broth is ready.

Chop a carrot and an onion. Saute them together until light-golden and add them to the pot, where your broth has turned red because of the beet. Let the flavors blend in the pot for sometime.

The next step is a cabbage. Take about 1/4 head of a cabbage and chop it into strips. Add the cabbage to the soup. Add garlic.

Wait until the beet, carrot and cabbage are soft and then dice 2 medium potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Add the potatoes to the pot.

When the potatoes are cooked, add freshly chopped dill. bay leaf, and allspice and cover the pot with a lid. Turn off the stove and let the soup sit for 20 minutes - it takes time for the flavor to develop. On the next day borshch tastes even better, just make sure you put the pot into a fridge for a night. You can cook a large pot of borshch and enjoy your soup for 3-4 days. Russians always serve borshch with a sour cream. Dark bread and pickles also go well with the soup.