Borshch

The main problem with spelling and pronunciation of this famous soup is letter “Щ” that doesn’t exist in English. So this soup can be spelled like borshch, borscht, borsch and even borsh. And none of them comes close to the right pronunciation. 🙂

Every cook has his own recipe of borscht. One can discuss eternally, what version is more Ukrainian and what version is more Russian an which one is more delicious. I share my version of borshch with you. Also I will mention possible variations. This is a quick recipe. It requires less than 1 hour while classic version takes 3-4 hours.

The amount of meat and vegetables can vary upon your taste. Famous color is a result of vegetable juice: beetroot (red and purple), carrot (orange), tomato paste (red). Depending on proportion of these vegetables and cultivar of beetroot the color of borscht may become more red, orange or even purple. Also you can experiment with color using white or purple carrot.

Borshch is a combination of sweet, sour and salty taste. In my taste this bowl of borsch is perfectly balanced. I will mention in the end of recipe how to correct the taste. Next time you will choose – to change the proportion of ingredients or to correct it with sugar/vinegar (lemon juice). Sweet taste is given by onion, carrot and beetroot, sour taste – predominantly by tomato paste. Also you may choose how to cut vegetables. You can do it the other way.

Traditionally borscht is served with pampushky, garlic buns that you can easily bake by yourself. 😉

Ingredients (capacity of a pot should be 4,5 l and up):

  • 0,5 kg of pork (chicken, turkey, beef)*
  • 2,5 l of water
  • 600 g of cabbage
  • 500 g of potatoes
  • 300 g of beetroot
  • 250 g of carrot
  • 200 g of onion
  • 100 g of tomato paste (it should contain only tomatoes and salt, possible ingredients – water and sugar)
  • 3,5 tsp of salt
  • 1 bay leaf or 1 stem (with leaves) of lovage / celery
  • A pinch of freshly grounded black pepper
  • Flavorless oil for frying
  • 2 cloves of garlic

Optional:

  • Chopped herbs for serving (dill, parsley)
  • 1 small bell pepper (100 g) or 1 tsp of paprika powder (I prefer not to add it)
  • Small piece of salo (salted pork belly, one should take only fat of salo) – I prefer cooking borscht without it

* Note we cook quick, so we should use Asian cooking style: beef should be sliced in thin slices, one should add beef 2-3 minutes before the end of cooking and stir borsch while cooking. Otherwise beef will be to tough to eat. In classic version beef is cooked more than 1,5 hours so it becomes tender.

To my taste out of all types of meat pork is perfect for borshch. I would recommend taking marble pork (such marble pattern is usually in some pieces of pork leg), the same that we choose for buzhenina. It will be the tenderest meat out of all possible variations.

Marble pork
This is what I call marble pork

In traditional long version of recipe one starts with cooking broth using a piece of meat with a bone. After cooking it more than 1 hour one cuts meat off bones and throws bones away. We will save time and omit this stage and bones. The only thing that we will lose: broth won’t have those valuable elements that we get after boiling bones and cartilages for 1-2 hours.

Also we will save time on washing dishes: take a pot that allows frying. It can be a steel pot for example.

Borscht, recipe
Out of this amount of ingredients borshch will be thick

Instructions

1. I use steel pot, that’s why I fry right in it. Actually vegetables should be stewed rather than fried. Cut onion in 4 parts and slice. Peeled carrot & beetroot (bell pepper too, if you use it) should be cut in strips.

I use food processor to cut carrot and beetroot. Usually I cut much more vegetables than 550 g. Then I divide cut vegetables in portions 300g of beetroot+250 g of carrot, wrap each portion in plastic bag and put into a freezer. Next time I will take already cut vegetables out of freezer and save time this way. Also I won’t wash food processor that time. 😉

Cut carrot & onion for borsch

2. Pour some oil in a pot and add cut vegetables. Fry at medium heat. After 5 min. cover the pot and stew stirring occasionally for another 15-20 min. Be careful and don’t forget to look after vegetables: they shouldn’t become fried or burned. If it starts to happen, add 2 tbsp of water.

Stewed carrot, beetroot and onion for borshch
Beetroot, carrot and onion in the end of stewing. We call it “zazharka”

3. While vegetables are being stewed, cut cabbage in thin stripes, dice peeled potatoes and slice meat. If one puts meat in a freezer for 2-3 hours prior to cutting, it will be possible to cut it thinner.

With pork I use the same trick as with beetroot and carrot: I slice pork, divide it in portions and freeze it. I defrost it in boiling water in Step 4, before adding cabbage and potatoes. I hold frozen pork with spatula and separate defrosted slices with fork.

4. When carrot-beetroot-onion are ready, add 1,5 l of water and the rest of ingredients (except chopped herbs, garlic and salo, if you use it). Add 1 l of water, stir and cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook 15 min.

Remember that thinly sliced beef should be added only 3 min prior to the end of cooking.

There are 2 possible ways when you can add cabbage. If you add it now, like I offer you, cabbage will become soft like the rest of vegetables. But you can add it 7-10 min later (so that potato and pork will be cooked 15 min and cabbage – 5-7 min) like my grandma used to do it. In this way cabbage will stay slightly crispy. My family was fond of grandma’s borscht while I was asking her to give me only broth and potatoes from borscht. This is a matter of taste. If you don’t know, which way you like the most, try both.

5. Taste borth of borshch to check the proportion of sweet and sour. If there’s a lack of sweet taste, add 1-2 tsp of sugar. If there’s a lack of sour taste, add 1 tbsp of vinegar (6-9% concentration) or lemon juice. And stir.

6. Switch off the stove, put garlic through a press and add it to borsch, stir, cover and give 30 min to rest – the taste will become more rich. I should confess, in my opinion borscht becomes tastier the next day. 🙂

There’s more complicated version of this step: take small piece of salo (3x3x3 cm) and mince it using a knife, put garlic through a press and add it to minced salo, mix it well to make a kind of paste. Also one can add some minced onion. This paste should be added the same way – after the stove is switched off.

Add chopped dill and parsley to each portion that you serve. Serve borshch with pampushki.

Borshch with chicken
Borshch with chicken. This time I have sliced meat as I recommend to do now. While the first picture of this post is from my first experience
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