THE RUSSIAN FOOD NETWORK

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Recipe: Russian Beets and Cabbage Soup (Borstch)
Ingredients:

  • 3 ½ cups canned tomatoes
  • 5 or 6 medium sized potatoes, cut in halves
  • 1 large carrot, cut fine
  • 1 small beet, peeled
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • butter
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • ¾ cup sweet cream
  • ½ cup fresh green pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh or dried dill (preferably fresh)
  • 1 celery, chopped fine
  • 2 ½ quarts water
  • 1 ½ cups potatoes, diced
  • black pepper

Directions: 

1. Bring water to boil in a large kettle. Add a ½ cup canned tomatoes.

2. When water is boiling, drop in halved potatoes, chopped carrot and beet.

3. Put 3 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan.

4. Put onion in frying pan. Cook until onion is tender, but do not brown onion.

5. Add rest of canned tomatoes to the onion and let simmer until it forms a thick sauce. Set to back of stove.

6. In a separate frying pan, melt 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter.

7.  Add 2 cups of the shredded cabbage and fry. Cook the cabbage until tender, but do not brown. The other 2 cups will be added to the borstch later.

8. Remove halved potatoes when tender, and place them into a bowl. Combine with 2 tablespoons of butter and mash. Then add sweet cream and mix well. Set aside.

9. Add diced potatoes to the stock along with the remainder of the shredded cabbage.

10. When diced potatoes are tender, add the onion-tomato- sauce.

11.  Add the cooked cabbage and the potato-cream mixture.

12.  Add 3 tablespoons of butter to the borstch. Stir well. 

13. Add fresh chopped fine green pepper and dill.

14. After one hour, remove the beet.

15. The borstch is ready to serve. Serve hot with chopped garlic and a slice of bread with butter.

Recipe taken from: http://www.waytorussia.net/WhatIsRussia/RussianFood/Soups.html

 

Synopsis:

Borstch is a soup comprised mainly of beets; however tomatoes and potatoes can also be included in the recipe. It is a soup that can either be served hot or cold – especially depending on which country you are in when eating the soup.

Borstch is common in Eastern Europe (i.e. Russia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine). Since beets can usually be purchased relatively cheaply, this soup is common amongst the lower classes. This soup dates back to at least the Medieval Times.

Source: http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodsoups.html#borscht 

Experience:

There is more prep work in cooking this then anything else. Once you have everything diced and chopped up though it’s relatively easy, if you follow the directions. It’s mainly just combining everything. It is rather time consuming though, and kind of reminded me of cooking a chili (which is what the taste also reminded me of). However, the borstch I made contained no meat. I would be curious to try a borstch with meat in it.

One thing I did not like about making the borstch was frying the cabbage. It was not an enjoyable smell (and a very strong one too). This recipe also called for a lot more fired butter than I had originally realized.

Reading Recommendation:

I would recommend “The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol. I make this recommendation because of the relevance of bread in both the story and as an accompaniment to the borstch. Another similarity is the social class relevance of the people that would consume borstch and that of the social class of the characters in the story.