However You Make It, Borscht Is Delicious
Borscht is one of my favourite soups. For me, borscht is a comforting sweet and savory red beet soup, often with beef simmered until falling apart tender. It turns out there are many variations and I didn't realize how many different styles there were until I was researching for this post.
Many recipes are vegetarian, some contain beef while others contain pork. Some use only light beets while others are deep red or purple and some are green with sorrel or other greens! There are still more variations using tomato, sometimes fermented, others no tomato, likewise with potatoes or even turnips and it can be served warm or cold.
Where Is Borscht From?
Borscht is originally Ukrainian but has long been traditional in Russia and most other Eastern European countries and it's no wonder. The borders have changed countless times throughout the last 1000 years in that area. My great grandparents home was sometimes called Poland and other times called Ukraine. I found a really cool video on YouTube with a time lapse of the borders changing which helped me put the stories in perspective. Check it out here if you're interested.
Memories Of My Grandmother Making Ukrainian Food
Initially I did not set out to post a borscht recipe because I felt it was such a familiar recipe and not really "my own recipe" but then I opened the boxes of my Grandmother's china. I was immediately transported to her kitchen with the smells of her delicious soup, cabbage rolls and pierogis. My memories of her lovingly making the Ukrainian food she grew up with and would serve to us at large family gatherings felt surprisingly fresh.
I have regrets of not spending more time with her learning the recipes better. I am thankful that my mom spent some time learning these special and meaningful recipes and that she has shared the recipes with me and sometimes makes them for our family gatherings now. (While you can't buy my china in our shop, we do have a really great selection of vintage home and kitchen ware, you should pop by for a peek!)
To Make It Vegetarian Or Not
My grandma usually made her borscht vegetarian, likely borne of necessity during her parents time during the depression. Their subsequent immigration to Canada was not as easy as they had likely hoped and times were tough for many years.
I have made this borscht recipe is based on my mom's version which includes beef. Meaty, rich, sweet, tangy and savory. Full of healthy vegetables and at the same time warm and comforting. Borscht is not a difficult soup, it just needs time to simmer. Although my favourite version is this one with beef, it is very easy and tasty to make it vegetarian (omit beef and substitute veggie stock) and I have made it many times that way too.
(For another peasant recipe that is a really delicious soup, try Potage Parmentier or Potato Leek Soup. A vegetarian wonder that is so much better than the sum of it's parts!)
Winter Vegetables Make A Warm Rich Soup
Borscht is a great winter soup. Beets (and beet greens if you have them), carrots, onions and cabbage were/are easy to grow in the garden and they all keep well into winter. Sometimes I will add a diced apple for extra sweetness, another easy to grow fruit that keeps well throughout the cold season.
Classic Garnishes For Beet Borscht
Serve with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt and garnish with dill, this is gorgeous, rich and comforting fall food at it's best.
Cheers my friends, I hope you love this recipe as much as my family.
Beet and Beef Borscht
- 1-1 ½ lb Stewing Beef, Cubed Short ribs work well too, but skim the fat during simmering
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Onion, Coarsely Chopped (1 Cup)
- 2 Carrots, Diced ½" (1 Cup)
- ½ c Tomato Sauce
- 1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
- 6 c Beef Stock If you are using a store bought stock that is salty, use 4 c of stock and 2 c of water.
- 2 c Beets, Diced ½", (Green Tops Coarsely Chopped Optional) About 3 medium beets
- 2 c Cabbage, Shredded
- Salt And Pepper To Taste
- ¾ c Sour Cream
- 1 Small Bunch Dill, chopped
- Preheat a large, wide heavy bottomed pot on medium-high. Once hot, add oil and then beef in one layer without crowding. Let it brown without stirring until it is well caramelized, then flip and brown other sides.
- Once beef is well browned, add onion and carrot, stirring gently. This will create a bit of moisture and steam and will help loosen the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Add in tomato sauce, vinegar and stock, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer 2 hours.
- Add in beets, beet tops if using and cabbage and simmer 1 more hour. If the soup is reducing too much, put lid on for last hour.
- Season with salt and pepper and then serve adding a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of dill to each bowl.
Ukrainian Borscht Soup With Sour Cream And Dill