Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Borsch 2.0

So, I talk a lot about borsch here on my blog. I think it’s pretty sad how most Americans are unfamiliar with this amazing dish, (at least I was before my mission) but those who do know about it and love it might be interested in using my recipe. Good Ukrainian recipes are hard to come by, even on the internet, so I have made it my life goal to search out what I can find, test them, and post my results in order for me to keep a record, and for these dishes to gain a little but more representation on the blogosphere.
Any Ukrainian will tell you that there are many different ways to prepare borsch, and each recipe is as individual as it’s creator. I was once making this at a friend’s house in Chicago where we planned to eat with our old MTC teacher, who was visiting. I was very shocked to hear her tell me, as I was slaving away cooking, that “[the borsch] is not the way it’s supposed to look”. I’ve resented it ever since. She was 100% wrong, plus, I had lived in Ukraine more recently than her. Micah at least was able to understand a bit better what my MTC experience was like. Simply put, it was crazy.
Anyways, I hope my readers take some time to make this very special soup, and even let me know how it turns out. I know there is an issue with posting comments (I guess it’s tricky after some of you “follow” my blog and choose the “private” option…I have no idea how to fix this) but if there is any other way you can get a hold of me, do it. MAKE THIS SOUP!! It’s GREAT for when you are sick, cold or depressed! It is CHOCK FULL of vitamins and fills you up in a good way! And when you make it without meat and using vegetable stock, it’s totally vegan (for all you hippies!).

UPDATE: Recently I tried getting a beef bone to throw in with chicken stock. This is my new favorite way to get a meaty, hearty flavor in this soup! Sometimes the bone even comes with a little meat that you can put in the soup too! Great, cheap alternative.

So let’s do it! Here is what you need (I bolded the ingredients to make it easier to make your shopping list :-)

3 quarts chicken or beef stock 
2 cups stew meat or chicken (optional: beef bone!)
Vegetable oil
Beets – if you are at a market with HUGE loose beets, get just 2. Most of the time my grocery store sells them in bunches of 4 or 5. If you get these, save the chard (if you like) and use all of them. You want to end up with about 3 cups of grated beet.
2-3 Carrots. You will need about 1 cup grated.
1 Onion, minced. About one cup.
2 medium potatoes. Cut into chunks or fingers.
1/4 head of Cabbage. See pictures for detailed amount.
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
Fresh Parsley
Citric Acid
Bay Leaf
Garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon
Onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon
Dried Basil, 1 teaspoon
Fresh or dried dill weed, 2 teaspoons
Salt and pepper
Sour Cream, for serving

Here is how you do it!

Put broth in a big soup pot. Add the Bay leaf. This batch was made with beef stock, and I used 2 1/2 quarts. I chose to make it without meat. If you do make it with meat, brown the beef or chicken cubes in a separate pan, and then add them to the soup with all the vegetables. Some recipes that don’t use stock just make it with water and the stew meat. I am not that fancy.
When you grate all your beets, the carrots, and mince the onion, you put it in a large frying pan with some vegetable oil, on medium heat. As they are frying, you want to keep stirring it, too keep the beets form burning. Sometimes people add water to prevent this.
Here is my citric acid. I don’t think I have used it in anything else besides this, but I wonder why that is. It’s like lemon flavor concentrate. They use it in Kool-Aid. It’s good stuff.
I sprinkle in about a 1/2 teaspoon. Too much makes it too sour.
As my beets fry, and my stock gets to a boil, I start to prep and potatoes and cabbage. I like to cut the potatoes in fingers (Apparently this is the “Russian” way, but there is no way I can verify that).
Into the pot. These cook for about 10 minutes.
To prep the cabbage, I peel of the first layer,
And cut off a section.
Then I shred it as thinly as possible.
Pile of cabbage! (should be the name of a band)
I put it in the pot about 5 minutes after the potatoes have been cooking.
Once the potatoes and cabbage are cooked I add the beet mixture.
The spoon is like my tongue, getting every last derlishus bit.
Then a big ol’ spoonful of tomato paste. I am too lazy for measuring.
Take out the bay leaf…
I like to make my own dill for jarring. More on that later.
Add a nice sprinkle, along with the other seasonings. Make sure you add enough salt. Taste it to see where it’s at.
This is the way a family used to serve it to me in Ukraine.  Heart shaped sour cream, fresh parsley, and Darnitsky bread.
This soup is like eating love!!!©
(I’m copywriting that for when I write my first cookbook, and/or star in my own cooking show)
Common questions I have about this soup:
Can I make this with my own seasonings?
YES absolutely. Be adventurous. If you ruin the whole pot of soup, then it won’t be that much money wasted. Cabbage is so cheap, you know?
Why is my borsch orange?
Not enough beet.
Is sour cream necessary?
No. But actually, YES.
Who taught you how to make borsch?
My native Russian companion, Sister Yashenkova. We cooked together in our apartment in Kiev, and she let me take notes. She was so gentle and mild that I never truly believed she was Russian.
Where do you get citric acid?
They have it in bulk at Fred Meyer, and little packets are available at international food markets. If you don’t want to get any, I suppose you could try lemon juice.

Again, please let me know if you try this, or if you have any questions. Успіху!


E B said...

Thanks! My mom used to make this all the time, but with shoestringed all vegetables, not just the potatoes. Also she used white vinegar + sugar instead of citric acid. I have no idea where she got the recipe, but someone who had been to Russia said it wasn't too far off, for what it's worth. Thanks for the variation!

Betsy Croft said...

Vinegar is actually something I've toyed with, but if I use it with the citric acid, it tastes too sour. So either one would turn out great. Sugar is also something I need to try.

Brooke-Jean Newman said...

We made your Zuppa Toscana the other day which was heavenly and will be added to the regular meals around this place. Now I need to try this out! Can I use canned beets? I have a bunch of canned beets my mom gave me at some point.

Betsy Croft said...

Brooke, I have never tried it with canned beets, but I suppose you could try it out! If they are too soft for grating, try just chopping them.

Lisa said...

Would you believe me if I told you I've been waiting for your to post this? I have.

Lili said...

Funny thing: MIndy's sister is on a mission in Armenia right now. She posted pics of borsch, and I thought, "it's time I try my hand at making some of that." Then I thought, "Didn't Betsy post a recipe once upon a time?" So I googled "Illuminated Blog Borsch" and found this! T'was only a month ago that you posted this?! I'ma gonna to make this sometime soon! I shall report back. Thanks for the recipe, yum yum!!

The Tengelsens said...

Just made it, and it tastes divine!

Lily said...

I made this last week, and it was the BEST borsch we've ever had! That's saying something, since borsch is my husband's favorite food. Thanks, Betsy! Out with the old recipe, in with YOURS!!

Betsy Croft said...

I'm super excited that you liked it!! It means a lot that you even tried it. I am always looking for suggestions, so if you did anything differently I'd love to know! Happy Borsch times my friends!!