Once upon a time, long, long ago, before the days of the internet….
When I was a kid, the only way I got to experience foods from other cultures, was in recipe books.
Though we ate a lot of kraft dinner and baloney, we owned lots of cook books. The typical cook books. You know the ones. Betty Crocker, Better Homes & Gardens, and the ones the pee-wee hockey team were selling for a fund raiser.
I have a memory of talking my mom into buying a cook book with a collection of recipes from around the world. I think Dominion had published it. I remember some of these impressive-looking dishes… beef bourguignon, Mexican wedding cakes, and borsht.
Well, here I am a couple decades (or so) later. I am finally getting around to one of these dishes.
*Disclaimer* : I won’t dream of claiming this as an authentic recipe. The truth is I had no idea what I was doing when I made this. I just examined a few borsht recipes and jotted down the basic ingredients. The honey and balsamic vinegar were additions I thought of, and I was pleasantly surprised by the result. However, I’m sure many Ukrainian cooks could teach me a thing or two. And I would love to hear any advice they have to offer.
This is not only my first time making it…but also my first time trying it.
I have to say the Ukrainians got it right. This is a classic example of farming people making the most of very little. And coming up with something superb. This dish is, firstly, beautiful. It is so visually appealing with it’s bright, ruby redness! Secondly, the taste is so fresh, earthy, and tangy.
Humble, wholesome, economical, yet also spectacular.
We made the borsht last night. My girls helped with the prep. I have found if I want my kids to try a dish that seems very different, I need to give them a job. If they have ownership and pride in it, they are less likely to turn their noses up.
And I was taking a risk. Beets are one of those veggies that people tend to love or detest. Many claim they taste like dirt (read why here) . Had I told one of my girls that (and I won’t say who) she would have tried it that much faster…just one of those kinds of kids. The sort who can’t wait to get a gross tasting jelly bean from a pile of ‘every flavour beans’.
They loved the borsht! Dyed red hands and all. They even discovered something that they loved even more. If they mix the dollop of sour cream into the soup, it turns hot pink.
Hot pink soup. Who can beat that?
I probably should have warned them (before they left for school) that they will have pink pee today.
2 large beets, scrubbed and washed well (about 5 inches in diameter)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed (1” cubes)
1 small red onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
½ head of red cabbage, shredded
1 large tomato, diced
½ tsp garlic puree
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp liquid honey
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
4 cups beef broth
In an 8 quart pot, fill half full with water. Set on high heat and bring to a boil. Boil the clean beets, all intact but with stems removed, for 10 minutes. Remove beets and set aside to cool. But leave beet water boiling on stove, with pot covered.
Meanwhile, while beets cool, prep the veggies. Don’t rush as the beet water is okay to reduce a little. When done chopping and dicing, pour beef broth and garlic puree into the boiling beet water. Reduce heat to medium. Now add potatoes and carrots. Let them cook for 10 minutes while you peel the beets.
Peel beets and quarter and slice them into ½ “ thick slices. Cut slices so that you have large bite-sized chunks.
Add cabbage, onions, honey, balsamic vinegar, and salt to the pot. Stir and then add the beets.
Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Then reduce heat to low, add in the tomato sauce, dill, and diced tomatoes. Stir, and cook another 10 minutes before turning off the heat. Allow the soup to cool some before serving. Don’t serve piping hot.
Add a dollop of sour cream and garnish with a few sprigs of dill.
Makes about 5 quarts of soup.