Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I guess Borsch is the first dish that comes to your mind when you think of Russian cuisine. So I am very happy to share with you the technique behind it. The reason I say technique is because basically you can do borsch any way you like it as long as you add beets and you cook them separately before adding to your soup.
I remember my grandmother cooking a rich beef stock first and then building her borsch from there. She would always make it with cabbage and potatoes. And then she would make sure everyone would get a piece of juicy meet from the pot on their plate. My mom would always make it vegetarian and would sweat the beets in butter rather than in lard. As for me I like playing with it even more. One day I would do it vegetarian and the other day would add meet. I may substitute potato with white beans and have it with Brussels sprouts since they tend to be sweeter than regular cabbage. But I never omit the step where you sweat your beets in little butter and tomato paste on a separate pan with a squeeze of lemon. This is the only way you can achieve this beautiful red color and bring out all the sweetness of beets.
If you choose to go with meet based borsch start by enhancing your beef broth. You will need to brown the meat in the pot, then add 1 onion halved and 1 coarsely diced carrot and then pour 6 cups of beef stock and cook on low for about 20 minutes.

6 cups of broth (vegetarian, chicken or beef)
2 tbs butter
1 tbs of corn oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stick, diced
3 Tbs of tomato paste
2-3 beets, diced
1 tsp vinegar or a squeeze of lemon
2 medium potatoes, pilled (or a can of white beans)
1 red pepper, diced
half a head of small cabbage , julienned
(or 0,5 lb of Brussels sprouts)
2 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

For serving: sour cream, chopped parsley and/or dill, , pilled garlic, bread and 1tbsp of salt

In a big pot heat 1 tbs of butter with oil and cook onion until translucent. Add carrots and celery and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add 1 spoon of tomato paste and caramelize it by stirring for a minute. Then pour the broth of your choice and bring it to a boil.
Meanwhile julienne your cabbage and add it to the soup. Now dice the potato and add them as well. Do the same with the pepper. Bring everything to a boil again. Add the bay leaves then lower the heat, cover with the lid and let it cook.
Now it is the turn for the beets. Heat another 1 tbs of butter on a separate pan. Add the beets, 2 Tbs of tomato paste and squeeze some lemon ( 1 tsp of vinegar). Sautee for about 10-15 minutes or until soft. Now you can add them to the pot together with some crashed garlic and bring everything again to a boil. Lower the heat to a minimum and cook for another 20 minutes.

Serve borsch with some sour cream and plenty of chopped parsley and/or dill.
Even better deep some peeled garlic into salt and rub the crust of your sliced bread. Yumm!


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