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Red Borscht

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Before we start, Let me tell you guys why I decided to make borscht in the first place. John recently went to Poland and visited with family over there. Being the food lover that I am, I didn't ask how his family was, or what he saw there, all I asked about was borscht. What is it like? Do you like it? Are there a million different types? When he got back, I begged him for a secret family borscht recipe. After a few months, he finally emailed his cousin for the recipe. a few weeks later she got back to him with what seemed like a very simple beet broth recipe. The borscht John had described had lots of "chunks" and very little broth! I googled a sentence from the recipe and found that it was copy-pasted from the BBC website, and one of the first google results for borscht. We got scammed! I suppose they didn't want to give away family secrets to the world. I was so excited to try borscht that I decided to research it a bit and wing a recipe. John said it tasted nothing like the borscht he had in Poland, but that's cause you didn't get me the damn recipe John! I don't claim this to be authentic, because I have never tasted borscht before and made up this recipe. I DO however claim it to be delicious.


I started by making a vegetable stock similar to the one in the BBC recipe. Pretty standard stock, plus a lot of beets.



Red and delicious.



Most borscht recipes involve simmering the veggies in the stock for awhile. I wanted the flavors to be focused and distinct, not all muddled together, so i decided to roast them in small cubes and add to the soup at the last minute.



The beet leaves were very fresh, so I added them to the soup. Soooooo beeety. The soup had beets 4 ways! Simmered in the stock, roasted, raw, and leaves.



The roasted veg.



Making it rain... Rain beet leaves. About 10 minutes BEFORE this picture, I added shredded red cabbage.



Here is the raw beet element I mentioned before. Add this at the last minute to boost the color and beet flavor. I also added red wine vinegar at this point.



Yum. A little dill and sour cream on top.



Beets are soo sweet. the sweetness came through in this soup big time. It was balanced though with salt and vinegar.




So as I said, this probably isn't authentic, but it is the recipe I came up with and it was tasty. I like the fact that there are 4 different beet preparations in the soup. Roasting the veg was nice to keep the flavors distinct. The funny thing was, the next day I went to have the soup for lunch and I hated it! I added an extra scoop of sour cream and threw the whole thing in the blender and it tasted fantastic again! I wish I had a picture of that.

First make a stock with 3 beets, a head of garlic, 3 onions, 5 ribs of celery, 5 carrots, and enough water to cover. Strain and set aside. Next roast at 400 degrees until tender - 1 potato, 2 beets and 3 carrots, chopped into half inch cubes, salted, and olive oiled. Shred up some cabbage and beet greens, and dice an onion and 2 ribs of celery. In a pot of hot olive oil, add the onions and celery and saute for 5 minutes. Add the red stock. Add the cabbage and simmer 20 minutes. Add the beet greens. Add the roasted veg. Bring to a simmer. Shut off the heat and add about 1/4 cup vinegar and one raw grated beet. Serve and garnish with sour cream and dill.


7 Comments

different places do their borscht differently. I found that in general, in Ukraine they tended to add a lot more to it, whereas most places in Poland do tend to keep it simple. All a matter of preference!!

your version looks very good though. I might try it myself!

Hey Dan, so since no one called me the other polak I just wanted to share that I'm pretty sure I can get you a good recipe since the Babci's pierogies you see in the grocery store are actually my Babci's. I'll see if there's a Borscht recipe out there too.

I'm a Russian immigrant (with an older sister in Watertown, MA!) and I can say that your one mistake is leaving out meat! I always heard stories of how my family starved through the Great Depression in Russia, but it seems like everything authentically Russian that my mom makes has to be stuffed with meat or boiled with meat. So remember for next time--MEAT. But your borsht does look delicious, and I'm curious to taste the different beet components. :)

I have a friend in western MA who's parents were straight off the boat Polish immigrants. My friend John (who's 75 years old) has told me stories of his mother (who spoke no English ever and had 12 kids!) used to make this dish by putting a pan of milk on the radiator all day. Or something like that. I just remember listening to how this was made and thinking that it must be the most disgusting thing ever. Anyway, I'm going to give him a call tonight to see if he or his sister can get you an authentic recipe to post. I'll let you know what I find out. Love this site by the way.

What you need for the proper borscht is the fermented beet, something similar to Russian bread kvass but made with beet. In Poland you can buy it bottled. I guess you can't get it where you live. I have never attempted to make it at home but if you are interested I can attempt translating the recipe from my bulky "Kuchnia polska".

Greetings from Poland.

I must say that this soup didn't have me at hello, but by the end of my summer living in Russia I was a big fan. So, if you don't like it the first time, keep trying it because you might just develop a liking for it. Plus its hot pink, who can beat that!

Here's my thoughts on your soup;

I have never heard it called 'borscht' before, I live in Poland and I suppose this is the American pronunciation of 'barszcz' - very interesting thing to learn.

I adore barszcz (best hangover cure ever!) but its very rare that one would make it fresh very often because it takes weeks of preparation. This is usually saved to do once a year at Christmas, the rest of the time people buy it in cartons or powder etc.

To make it from scratch you start by pickling the beetroots for a few weeks with herbs, spices, salt, vinegar etc and indeed, leaving them on the radiator to stay warm and get the fermentation going. After that its basically just blending it all up with some stock and stuff. Its amazing when its made fresh, but as I said before its just too time consuming for every day munching!

You should try making 'uszka z grzybamigrzybami' and put them into the finished barszcz. They are like very small mushroom filled pierogi. YUM!

Greetings from Gdynia, northern Poland!

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