We’ve all heard of borscht, or borsch, and it may be the first food that foreigners associate when thinking of Slavic or Eastern European cuisine, particularly Ukrainian cuisine.
Borsch is originally a Ukrainian concept, so here we will spell it also without the English ‘t’ at the end (it is spelled ‘borscht’ in English, after we borrowed it from Yiddish); it is considered also to be the national dish of Ukraine.
Borsch, a soup with a beet base, has been around for hundreds of years, dating back to Medieval times. It was a food for the working class and poor, since the starch and other components were cheap and accessible; you would never see this served at a royal dinner back then.
There are innumerable recipes for borscht throughout the world, and so I will add one more, though it is meant to be as close to the authentic and traditional recipe from years past as possible; some of the recipe is derived from an 1861 Russian cookbook, Classic Russian Cooking: Elena Molokhovets’ A Gift to Young Housewives, by the author named in the title, and the rest is a modern-day variation or adaptation.
Traditional Ukrainian Borscht
- 3 qts water
- 3 lbs beef or pork (or combination)
- 1 pc onion diced
- 3 pcs beets grated (not pickled!)
- 3 pcs potatoes, medium chopped
- 3 pcs carrots grated
- 1 head cabbage shredded
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 1 bunch parsley diced
- 1 pc pork fat optional
- Make a meat broth with the water and beef and/or pork.
- Add the vinegar and diced onions to meat broth.
- Prepare the beets by boiling them whole in a separate pot for about an hour. After that, immerse in cold water, grate them, and set aside for later.
- Cook whole potatoes, carrots, and head of cabbage for about half an hour or less.
- Shred the cabbage, chop the carrots and potatoes.
- Mix all together, with the grated beets from before, and add the diced parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top, and enjoy!