#7 Russia: Borsch

borsch

russia

With the cold November nights drawing in, I fancied making a dish that would be more of a ‘winter warmer’ and this Russian borsch certainly is that.  Perhaps it was just the unfamiliarity of this dish to me, or the preparation time, or the fact that I was up and cooking at silly-o-clock in the morning, but making this felt a bit like tackling an epic by Tolstoy or Dostoevsky.  But it was most definitely worth it.

This visually arresting dish, with its deep red hue from the beetroot, is actually dead easy to make.  I ended up making it in the morning, leaving the flavours to infuse during the day, and then heating it up for supper.  I think this was a good move, because the taste was only so-so when I left it to cool this morning, but was absolutely delicious by the time I returned home from work.  I also learned from this dish that I am not much of a fan of sour cream, and will eat the remainder of the borsch without, which is fine because it is full of flavour as it is.  The quantities below will make the proverbial ‘shed load’ of the stuff, but I am not complaining because this is a really great soup.

(And, yes, I know that I possibly could/should have attributed this dish to Ukraine, which seems to be where it originated from, but it does also seem to be an established part of Russian and other Eastern European cuisines).

Ingredients

  • 3 litres water
  • 1 ½ tbsp vegetable stock
  • 4 medium beetroots
  • ½ head of white cabbage
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion
  • 3-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 ½ cups of passata
  • 1-2 tsp sugar
  • Sour cream
  • Fresh dill

Method

  1. Put the water into a large saucepan, add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil, before covering and simmering on a low heat.
  2. Peel the raw beetroot, cut it into thin strips and stew in the pot for 30 minutes.
  3. Dice the potatoes and add to the pot together with the bay leaves and continue to cook gently on a low heat for a further 10 minutes.
  4. In a frying pan, fry the onion, garlic and carrots (chopped into thin strips like the beetroot) in a little olive oil for 5 minutes.  Add the passata and sugar, mix well, and continue to fry for a further 5 minutes.  Add the mix from the frying pan to the saucepan.
  5. Next shred the cabbage finely and add to the borsch, and continue to simmer for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat and allow the borsch to stand to allow the flavours to infuse (I left mine for most of the day, but I’m sure a few hours will suffice).
  7. Re-heat and then serve with sour cream and dill.

Acknowledgement: Recipe adapted from one I found on masterrussian.com.

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