Friday, March 26, 2010

Borsch: Difficult to pronounce, Impossible to resist

It was a long time since the last recipe and today is Friday, so – it’s a borsch time!

Borsch is an extremely popular soup in Eastern and Central Europe. It is of Ukrainian origin, and in the times of the Soviet Union it was adopted into multi-cultural Soviet cuisine. I never been to Ukraine, but I love borsch and so will you if you only try it once :)

The main ingredient of borsch is beetroot. Other ingredients can vary, but without beet there is no borsch. Borsch can be vegetarian, and just take it from the big meat-eater: vegetarian borsch is not an iota less tasty. So, you start from ether clean water or a beef broth.

For 1.5 L (about 6 cups) of water of broth you will need:

- 3 medium size beets with leafy tops (if you can’t find beet with tops, add about ¼ head of white or red cabbage)

- 1 big carrot
- 1 medium white onion
- 1 big parsley root (if you can’t find it, just add more parsley at the end)
- 1 – 2 potatoes
- 2 tomatoes or about of ½ cup of tomato sauce
- You can also add a bell pepper, but this is optional
- Garlic to taste
- Salt, black pepper, bay leaf, sour cream, hot mustard, parsley, dill

Cooking time at least an hour, but the slowly you cook a soup – the better it tastes.

The most Important technology know-how: put leafs raw and braise roots separately before putting them in the soup. A rule of thumb: if it’s a root – grate it or chop very fine and braise it for a 3 – 5 min on the pan. Then – put it in. If it’s not a root – just chop it put it as it is.

This is an order that I use when putting the veggie in the borsch:

1) Grated and braised carrot
2) Grated and braised beet
3) Chopped or grated potato
4) Grated and braised parsley root
5) Chopped and braised onion
6) Chopped beet tops or cabbage
7) Crushed tomato or tomato sauce
8) Bell pepper if you use it

I salt the broth before adding veggies, but this is up to you. You may also want to add a little sugar or/and lemon juice: the soup should have a nicely balanced sweet-and-sour taste. So try it and make an adjustment if it’s necessary (for the most time it’s not). Don’t put the bay leaf too early: it can give a bitter taste to the soup. And never – NEVER – let the borsch to boil violently.

This is another important know-how: if you let the borsch to boil heavily, it will loose its color. So keep your pot on the edge of boiling all the time. Be patient. Do it on weekend. Actually, borsch is getting better overnight. If you cook it in the evenin, it will be even tastier at the next day lunch.

Serve your borsch with sour cream, hot mustard, crushed garlic, black pepper, chopped parsley and dill. It is a spicy, hot, hearty dish. Try it before it’s get too hot outside.

Bon appetite mes amis!


  1. Wow! I know everyone has his/her own recipe, but I have never seen a recipe that calls for cabbage only when there are no beet leaves! I always put a ton of cabbage in my borsch, and I saute half of all the veggies that go into the soup, with the other half being put in the soup completely raw. Interesting! I also put garlic in the very end, and I have never heard of using mustard! Do you ever use beans?

  2. Beans - no never 80) Do you mean green beans or red beans? I too put garlic at the very end (or right in the bowl) and I LOVE mustard in borsch - I like it spicy :)))

  3. i've never had borsch before. i'd love to try it one day...sounds good.

  4. And it's not as complicated. The only problem is to grate all the veggies, but if you have a processor it's a matter of a few minutes.