Borscht is famous throughout the former Soviet Union countries. I first ate the delicious and healthy recipe in Lviv, Ukraine, as my lovely couchsurfing host cooked it for my buddies and I. Later on, while living in Russia, I often tasted the delicacy in restaurants. Finally, I learned to make borscht myself. I was surprised that my own home-cooked borscht was among the best I’d ever eaten! While it can take awhile to make, it’s a rewarding meal, especially satisfying on cold winter days. Make some borscht for yourself, especially if you are going to be traveling to Russia or surrounding countries soon, or perhaps you are hosting someone from there!
- 700-800g Beef
- 1 small head of cabbage
- 2-3 medium-sized potatoes
- 2 beet roots
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 1 table spoon of tomato paste (or 1 tomato)
- oil, garlic, salt, pepper
(Up to you, but better with all this!)
- Bay leaf
- greens: dill, parsley, basil
- Sour cream (Smetana in Russian)
- First, wash off the beef and throw it into a pot of cold water. Add some salt (depending on how much you love it, I usually throw a few pinches or sprinkles in there). Then heat the pot until the water boils. Lower the heat to a simmer, and boil the beef for about an hour.
While it’s cooking, you can spoon out the fat that’s congregating on the surface of the water.
But don’t throw out the beef-flavored water, you’ll need it later!!
- Chop up all the vegetables!! I do this while the slab of beef is cooking. Peel the potatoes and onion and cut them into smallish pieces. Peel the carrot, beet root, and shred them up (can do this using a cheese grater). Also shred up the cabbage.
- Once the beef is finally ready (after about an hour), remove it from the water. But DON’T throw out the water! Chop up that cooked beef into small pieces, then toss them back into the water. Bring it all to a boil once again.
- Toss in the cabbage. Wait a few minutes [until it boils again], then toss in the potato cubes, along with some sprinkles of salt and pepper.
- Put some oil on a pan and fry up the shredded beet root. Fry it on low heat, turning it constantly, for about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste (or the chopped tomato) to the frying beet root, cook it for another minute or so. Then toss the fried beet root into the simmering pot! You will immediately see the stew start to turn reddish purple, the natural color of borscht.
- Now you’re getting there! Almost done…. put the chopped-up onion and shredded carrot bits onto the frying pan and fry them up, until it has a golden color. Then toss them into the soup!
- Simmer for a few more minutes [until potatoes are soft], then add chopped-up garlic bits and the greens to the soup. After 5 minutes, turn off the stove. You’re almost there!
- Let the brew sit for about a half hour. Go and rest, and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Or, you can take this time to cut the bread.
How to Serve the Borscht!
Now that you’ve successfully cooked yourself a pot of home-made borscht, it’s finally time to enjoy it! Scoop it into a bowl until it’s full. Make sure to get some of the stuff on the bottom into your bowl, so there’s a good mix of chunks and broth in there. Then, add a big scoop of sour cream to the top. Mix the sour cream together into the soup, so now it’s a milky pink color.
I enjoy dipping bread slices into the soup and eating with bread. Russians also like putting their traditional suhariki (very hard bread pieces) into the soup to eat. And enjoy! Good job making your Soviet delight!