Thursday, June 21, 2012

Beautiful Borscht

Last summer my friend Marina and I got together at her house to make some beaded jewelery.  Marina lived in Israel for several years before settling in the United States, but prior to that she grew up in the Ukraine.  Before we got started, Marina provided me with a feast which included a bowl of borscht.  Served with sour cream, garlic, and dark bread, it was as gorgeous as it was delicious!  She promised me that some day she would teach me how to make this classic beet based soup. Since her mother, Sofia is currently visiting from Israel, we had my cooking lesson this Tuesday.  As I watched and took pictures, I realized that making borscht is more of a process than following a recipe.  Marina said that in the Ukraine, families make this soup about once a week, and each family probably makes it just a bit differently from the next one.  Below are the steps for making a vegetarian style borscht, but Sofia assured me that it is very delicious when meat is added.  By the way, this makes a huge amount and it's even better the second day!

The Russian Ladies Make the Borscht!
Steps for Making Borscht

1. Gather your vegetables together

You will need 2 onions, 3 beets, 4 carrots, 1 sweet potato, 3 regular potatoes, 1 red pepper, 1/2 a cabbage, 4 celery stalks, 1 parsnip or parsley root, 4 garlic cloves and 2 tomatoes.  Peel all the skins off (except the cabbage, celery, tomato, and pepper).  Cut one of the beets in half and cut two of the carrots in half lengthwise and then in half again. Slice the other two beets, carrots and the red pepper into strips.  Cube the sweet potato and potatoes.  Slice the cabbage and the celery.  Grate the tomatoes and the garlic.

2.  Get the pot boiling

Fill a large pot with water and turn it up high.  Drop the parsnip or parsley root, the two beet halves, the two onions, and the two cut up carrots into the boiling water.  Turn the heat down and simmer until a fork goes into the beet easily.

3.  Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil up in a skillet and cook the sliced vegetables

Place the sliced pepper, carrots, and beets in the skillet along with a 4 oz. can of tomatoe paste.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Saute until vegetables are soft.

4.  Remove the beet halves and the two onions from the pot and add potatoes

Discard the two removed onions, but grate the beet and put it back ito the pan along with the sweet and regular potato cubes.  Cook until a fork goes into the potatoes easily.

5.  Add the skillet ingredients plus more to the pot

Along with the mixture that has been cooking in the skillet, add the sliced cabbage, sliced celery, and two grated tomatoes to the pot.  Add 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt, 4 minced garlic cloves, and 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley.  Marina says fresh dill is also very nice if you have it on hand. Let it all simmer for a few minutes until celery and cabbage are cooked.  Make sure to serve it with sour cream! 

P.S. Since I posted this Marina's mom has made HUGE pots of this for me a couple of times. I want to stress that using fresh dill is definitely the way to go!!!

Many thanks to Sofia and Marina for a fun afternoon of cooking!


  1. I love Borscht but have never made it. I think you guys just gave me the motivation!

    1. Marina and Sofia said it was even better with a soup bone thrown in the pot. Let me know how it turns out - thanks!