Every family in Ukraine and Russia has their own recipe of borsch that’s why it always tastes different. It can be meat based or vegetarian, fat or lean, thick and chunky or thin and with more liquid. I’ve learnt cooking borsch as a little girl helping my grandmother in the kitchen, but as I grew up I developed my own approach.
To make this red goodness you will need:
- 5-7 tbsp butter or ghee
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 3-6 bay leaves
- 2 Tbsp dry dill flakes
- 2 Tbsp dry parsley flakes
- 1 Tbsp garam masala
- (1 big Onion diced: optional)
- 2 small (or 1 big) Beets diced
- 1 large carrot diced
- 1/2 small white or red cabbage cut thinly
- 1,5 cup tomato sauce/paste/juice/ or 2 large tomatoes without skin grated
(Other vegetables that taste good in borsch are bell peppers, parsnips, and cauliflower. Some people put eggplant but, personally, I am not a huge fan of the flavor that it gives to the soup. Most people put potatoes, which I almost don’t eat because they are too starchy so I omit this traditional ingredient. I also have complicated relationship with onion and garlic which I will cover in my articles later on)
What I like about making borsch is that you prepare ingredients as you go. By the time you are done cutting up your next item it is ready to go into the pot. I wrote down the ingredients in order you use them according to their cooking time.
Use the biggest pot you have in the kitchen and you won’t regret. Start boiling water on high heat with all the ingredients up to onion, which you can include if you’d like.
Meanwhile, skin your beets and start dicing them. Most likely you will be done by the time water comes to a boil. If not – just reduce the heat. Put in your beets, bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to medium.
Peel the carrots, dice them, add them to the mix. Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat.
Cut the cabbage in half and use a mandolin to slice it into thin strips (or if you don’t have one just use a knife). Put the cut cabbage into a bowl, add a pinch of salt and give it some nice massage so that it releases its juices and becomes softer. Whenever you’re done add it into the pot, bring it to a boil and reduce the heat.
Wait another 5 minutes or so before adding the tomato component. Bring it to a boil and kill the heat. Cover your pot with a lid and let it sit for a little. Serve as is or with sour cream.
Priyatnogo appetita (bon appetit!)