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Ukrainian Borshch

No recipe image available."To make a good Borshch takes time, attention and good mood, so make sure you really feel like cooking it. I have made Borshch maybe a thousand times in my life if not more, but every time I need to dedicate 2 hours of my life to it without being disturbed, and even without cooking anything else at the same time." - Recipe submitted by Oxana Genina of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine.

Recipe Ingredients:

You need (for a 5 to 6-liter pot):
Meat for the broth (pork, or beef, or chicken, better with good bones for rich broth)
Or – for lenten (vegetarian) Borshch – kidney beans instead of meat
Beetroots (red table beets) – 500 g
Carrots – 150 to 200 g
Potatoes – as much as you like in soups, 2 to 7 medium size potatoes
Cabbage (white) – 1 medium size head
Paprika (any color) – 2 to 3 ones
Garlic – approximately 50 g (more or less, or not at all if you do not like it)
Greens - whatever you like (dill, parsley, coriander, basil, sorrel, etc.) in any quantity
Onions – 1 big or 2 medium size ones
Fresh tomatoes – 500 to 600 g (or 0.5 l tomato juice)
Eggplants – 200 to 300 g (not necessary, but better be)
Sunflower oil – 50 to 60 ml for Borshch with meat, 150 to 170 ml for vegetarian Borshch
Sour cream

Cooking Directions:

  1. Boil the meat (time depends on the meat, just make the broth almost ready). The pot should be half-filled with liquid. For vegetarian Borshch just bring to boil half a pot of water and at the same time start to cook the beans in a separate little pot.
  2. Peel and clean all the vegetables. Cut beetroots in long thin slices (about 2 mm thin) – God forbids to grate it with a grater! – and put it in the pot. Add salt. Carrots (sliced same as beetroots) and potatoes (cut in bigger soup pieces) go in the pot in about 30 to 40 minutes after beetroots.
  3. Use this time for preparing the rest of the vegetables because they take time, and have to be added by the end one after the other, and should not be overcooked.
  4. When adding new ingredients, try to get rid of the foam that builds up on the surface.
  5. Prepare cabbage, paprika, and garlic – slice them all in little pieces and keep in a big bowl. Cabbage has to be thin, and it is good to cut its long slices also crosswise (so that it does not hang off the spoon too much, otherwise you make sounds when you eat it). (Better not use very young green cabbage, it is too soft for Borshch.)
  6. Slice onions and eggplants in thin slices, prepare tomatoes (extract their juice with a grater and throw away the skin) or open your tomato juice. Heat up the frying pan with sunflower oil. Fry the onions till golden color, add eggplants, fry and stir on medium flame for about 10-12 minutes till soft, then add tomato juice. Bring to boil, cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Add cabbage with paprika and garlic in about 10-15 minutes after carrots and potatoes. If it is vegetarian Borshch then it is the right time to add the beans (make sure they are ready, if not – do it after your Borshch is ready), drain the beans water first. Bring your Borshch to boil and right away add the content of the frying pan (onions, eggplants and tomato juice). Very important is not to overcook the cabbage! It should not be boiling for over 5 minutes normally, unless you like it very soft.
  8. All the greens go in by the very end, 1 minute before you turn the flame off.
  9. Serve Borshch with sour cream (1 to 2 spoons per plate) but some people do not like it (by my experience about 1/4 of Ukrainians and almost all foreigners prefer it without).

Makes ? servings.

Oxana's Notes:

  • Do not be afraid to have too much cabbage in the pot. Cabbage is actually the main ingredient of real Ukrainian Borshch, it should be thick, and grandmothers say that Borshch is good if a spoon stands in it upright. Better make it thick, and if you do not like it you can always add some water and salt later.
  • Borshch tastes MUCH better the next day and many days after, it will not get spoiled if refrigerated for a week and more. Even people who do not like yesterday’s soups really enjoy last week’s Borshch. That’s why it makes sense to cook even a bigger pot. Just warm up every time some quantity as you do with any soup.
  • Important! Vegetarian Borshch tastes super delicious when cold. DO NOT warm it up, just add some sour cream. If you still do not like it cold you can always make it warm.