Friday, March 8, 2013

Ukrainian Lent Borsch

Blog's Category: International, USSR-era Recipes, My Staple Food

Ukrainian Lent Borsch

As a vegetarian, I eat this borsch year around but for people, who observe lent this time of year, this borsch may be a good alternative to meat based soups. Because of a huge amount all sorts of vegetables, it's very satisfying and flavorful all-in-one type of meal.
It was my mom's favorite type of borsch and was cooked often. Because there is no drop of animal fat in it, this bosch can be even eaten cold, strait from a fridge. Actually it all depends on a weather behind a window or your mood - eat it cold or eat it hot or warm, with a drop of sour cream on top, it will be great always.

Besides being tasty, it is ...
- good for you with all these vegetable brew
- it's practical because gives you solid lunch/dinner option for several days in a row. With a simplest sandwich (or even piece of bread with a little something), it resembles a great healthy meal.

Taste Description

It is one of a kind taste. Actually, taste of any kind of borsch continue to develop throughout first couple of days in a fridge. Just taken from a stove, borsch tastes as a rich and flavorful vegetable stew - vegetables still are keeping their distinct taste and flavor, they are somewhat crunchy (especially cabbage) and liquids are like a sweet-&-sour bridges connecting all veggies in a pot. When borsch are cooled down, notably the next day, all flavors are married and liquid got infused with this unique flavor combination. Soft flavors and tastes of carrot, beet, cabbage, beans and potato are magnified here with a bold essences of pepper, onion, tomato and parsley. All together it is a beautiful bouquet for your palate not to mention, with all those bright colors, its a real pleasure for your eyes too!

How to Serve
It HAS TO BE served with a dollop of sour cream. Sour cream, on a one hand, tones down all that intense fusion of borsch flavors. On a other hand, sour cream brings contrasting and exciting element to this dish. Eating borsch without sour cream is similar to eating french fries or hamburger without ketchup; or eating tortilla chips without salsa (god forbid!).
At quite family setting, we often eat borsch with toasted bread, generously rubbed with a raw garlic. If feeling lazy - you may just do micro-bite into raw garlic, then nice bite to your crusty bread and then finish all up with a dripping spoon of borsch - that's about right way to eat borsch!

Ukrainian Lent Borsch

For a large pot of borsch:
  • 5-6 large potatoes, peeled and diced 1"
  • 1 medium beet root, peeled and grated or cut in a thin matchsticks
  • 3 carrots, peeled and grated or cut in a thin matchsticks
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 medium cabbage, shredded
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed (or use any beans you have)
  • 1 can of white navy beans, rinsed (or use any beans you have)
  • 1 cup tomato, pureed (canned) (or 3 tbs tomato paste)
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2-3 tbs sugar (to be adjusted to your taste)
  • 4-5 tbs olive oil
  • salt
  • black pepper
- Fill 2/3 or a large pot with a water, place potatoes in it and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer until potato is almost cooked.

- Meanwhile, cook your "mirepoix" (or base): in a skillet with olive oil, cook onion until soft. Add carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add tomato puree and some water to create thick sauce. Cook it for about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

- When potato almost cooked, add grated beet to a pot and let it simmer until beet will lose half of its bright color and become rather red then bright fuchsia/purple. It will take about 10-15 minutes.

- When potato is completely cooked and practically falls apart, and beet got much lighter in color, add your carrot, onion, tomato mix from a skillet, chopped pepper and rinsed beans. Stir, bring to a boil on a high heat, then turn heat down and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

- Add cabbage. Stir. It will be a lot of vegetables in pot already. Add some water if needed. But remember that Ukrainian borsch is supposed to be rather thick than watery. Add salt, pepper and sugar. Stir. Bring borsch to a boil. Adjust seasoning. Do not be afraid to add sugar. Right balance between tomato acidity and sugar will be base for your borsch taste. If it even slightly still on a acid side - add a bit more sugar. If taste seems to be too bold, no worry - vegetables will soak in that and taste will smooth out later on.

- When you are happy with a taste balance, add parsley, stir, turn heat off - you have it done!


That's a shame - making my mirepoix, I forgot to add tomato puree! That's ok.. I added it right into the pot later on (see pictures below).

It's a yellow bell pepper goes in...

Sometimes I put so much vegetables that it almost overflows the edges of pot.. And sometimes I need to take some half-cooked "borsch" out from a pot to free up a room! That "surplus" liquid is not going down the drain - I drink it up as light liquid snack :) - may be with a slight seasoning adjustment.

I used crushed tomatoes this time (vs tomato puree or tomato paste). It's totally acceptable...

Green onion is absolutely optional here. Your borsch won't lose a bit in its taste without it.

Final product - gorgeous.. and delicious - at this point you can just take my word on it ;)

- Green onion, bell pepper are optional in this recipe. All other ingredients are pretty much the must, including vegetable/olive oil, sugar and parsley. Do not forget about "cherry on top" - a sour cream on top!

1 comment:

  1. Hi, its Great Lent. We can't have sour cream, no dairy products allowed? I have been to Ukraine 6 times now, in both the east and west, and I have dined in the most prestigious restaurants in Kyiv, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and in the Carpathians. No one uses crushed tomatoes although it would certainly work. But its not traditional at all.

    Last of all, where is the dill in all of this? Your adding green onions and bell peppers? What? Find me one world class restaurant in Ukraine that does the same? Black beans???? Your crazy!

    Your recipe is just really, really not authentic but it could also taste very well. Just don't pass it off as being traditional Ukrainian food, because it's not, OK?


I would love to hear from you!