If you ever visit the Ukraine or other East European countries you will most definitely come across this soup. Borscht (борщ) is predominately made of beetroot (red beets) and includes meat and a dollop of soured cream. Most countries have their own versions of Borscht but it originates from the Ukraine and you can’t beat the real Ukrainian recipe. My mother in law Olga gave me her recipe and I would like to share it with you to introduce you to a little East European culture and to taste this famous soup.
Did you know there are so many health benefits to eating beetroot? Have a look here
What you need to know:
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 1 hour 40 mins
Ingredients for 7 Portions:
8 oz / 250 g beetroot (use cooked to save time)
8 oz / 250 g potatoes peeled and diced(x3 small-medium)
use sweet potatoes if following a paleo lifestyle
4oz / 125 g white or green cabbage sliced
1 large onion chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Half a pound / 8 oz / 250 g beef or pork chunks or a couple of ribs (raw)
5 black peppercorns (whole)
6 pints / 3L water
3 tbsp organic soured cream / creme Fraiche (plus a tbsp for each bowl at the end)
pinch of salt
1 tsp honey (to taste)
1 bay leaf
handful of fresh or dried parsley
2 tbsp ghee / coconut oil
1. First we need to cook the beetroot. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to the boil. We will cook the beetroot whole. If you cut it in half the colour will bleed out and you will loose that lovely red. To prepare your beets for boiling first cut the leafy part and the root off so that you have just the beet, rinse it under running water and pop in the pan of boiling water. Beetroot can take between 40-60 mins to cook depending on the size. When they are done you should be able to rub the skin off easily with your hand.
2. When the beetroot is cooked, let them cool and then remove the skins. Coarsely grate them into a bowl and watch out you don’t touch anything precious with your red hands! Beetroot stains! If using cooked beetroot, skip the cooking instructions and just grate into a bowl.
Pour the juice of the lime over the beetroot. This will help bring out the red colour.
3. In a large saucepan add 3 litres of water, the meat and a tablespoon of oil and boil until the meat is cooked.
4. Add in 5 black peppercorns, dried parsley, the diced potatoes and cabbage and boil until cooked. Turn the heat to simmer while you do step 5. (If using fresh parsley don’t add yet. Wait until step 8 to keep as much flavour in as possible.)
5. In a frying pan put the chopped onion, 3 tablespoons of soured cream and one tablespoon of ghee / coconut oil and fry until the onions are golden brown.
6. Add the onions to the large saucepan and then the grated beetroot. Check the consistency; there should be more liquid than vegetables so if need be top up the saucepan with boiled water.Bring the heat back up to medium or high.
7. Add a bay leaf and the salt. If it is a little sour for your liking add a spoon of honey to taste.
8. Let the soup boil for a good 5 mins to make sure everything is thoroughly cooked. If using fresh parsley add now and mix in.
9. Serve with a dollop of soured cream on top of each bowl, fresh warmed gluten free bread rolls (optional) and if you really want a Ukrainian delicacy, slices of fatback (salo)! Let me know what you think!
Tip: If you are in a hurry and need to save time there are a couple of shortcuts you can do that will cut around an hour 10 mins off your cooking time although it will impact the flavour slightly.
1. Use ready-cooked beetroot or cook and grate the beetroot the night before.
2. Use cooked meat or leftovers and add 1 pint / half litre of beef stock to the saucepan of boiling water in stage 3 and jump straight to stage 4.
3. Or put everything except the grated beetroot, onion and soured cream and fresh parsley in a pressure cooker, then when everything is cooked, add the cooked and grated beetroot, onion in soured cream and parsley and bring to the boil and then serve! Ready in 40 mins if using cooked beetroot!